WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is preparing to send humans back to the Moon through the Artemis program, not just to walk and explore, but to develop a sustainable presence. The next generation of moonwalkers will need a whole new suite of spacesuits and support systems to enable exploration of the inhospitable environment at the lunar South Pole for the first time.
Former senator Bill Nelson appearance before the Senate Commerce Committee this week turned into a mutual admiration society with legislators and the nominee for NASA administrator exchanging compliments and largely agreeing on the future direction of the space agency.
Barring some unexpected development, the Senate Commerce Committee should easily approve Nelson’s nomination and forward it to the full Senate, where it is likely to pass by a wide margin.
The only fireworks that were expected prior to the hearing involved NASA’s controversial decision last week to award a $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX to build the Human Landing System to take astronauts to the lunar surface as part of the Artemis program.
Some legislators have questions the decision to award a single contract instead of making multiple awards to maintain competition and give NASA redundancy. Losing bidders included Dynetics and Blue Origin’s National Team, which included Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper.
Nelson voiced support for the award and the goal of landing two astronauts at the lunar south pole by the end of 2024.
“I think you may be pleased that we’re gonna see that timetable try to be adhered to, but recognize that with some sobering reality that space is hard,” Nelson said.
The SpaceX contract covers an uncrewed and crewed lunar landings by the company’s Starship vehicle. NASA plans to open another competition for taking crews and cargo to the lunar surface as the agency builds a base on the moon.
PITTSBURGH, Pa., April 22, 2021 (Astrobotic PR) — The German Aerospace Center (DLR) joins a mission with Astrobotic to land a special German-built instrument on the Moon onboard Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander in 2021. DLR will send this radiation detector to measure key radiation data on the flight to the Moon and on the lunar surface ahead of the upcoming NASA Artemis missions that will send the first woman and the next man to the Moon.
The latest in a series of updates from NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) says that despite making significant progress on the $86 billion Artemis program, the space agency’s schedule for returning astronauts to the moon in four years is likely to slip. [Full report]
“Nonetheless, the Agency faces significant challenges that we believe will make its current plan to launch Artemis I in 2021 and ultimately land astronauts on the Moon by the end of 2024 highly unlikely,” the update said.
MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — In the Scientific and Production Association named after S.A. Lavochkin (part of the State Corporation Roscosmos), work continues on preparations for the launch of the automated lander Luna-25, which is scheduled for the fall of this year. The modern lunar apparatus will be a continuation of the Soviet landers of the same name.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA is getting ready to send astronauts to explore more of the Moon as part of the Artemis program, and the agency has selected SpaceX to continue development of the first commercial human lander that will safely carry the next two American astronauts to the lunar surface. At least one of those astronauts will make history as the first woman on the Moon. Another goal of the Artemis program includes landing the first person of color on the lunar surface.
The Washington Post is reporting that SpaceX has won a single-source contract to develop the Human Landing System (HLS) based on its Starship design that will take humans back to the moon.
SpaceX beat out Dynetics and the Blue Origin-led National team that included Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper. SpaceX’s $2.9 billion bid was well below that of its competitors, according to the Post.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 4 p.m. EDT today, Friday, April 16, to announce the company or companies selected to move forward in developinga single-source contract to SpaceX to develop a modern human landing system (HLS) that will carry the next two American astronauts to the surface of the Moon and pave the way for sustainable lunar exploration under the Artemis program.
Tune in for a special announcement followed by a livestream of the teleconference audio at:
Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate
Mark Kirasich, deputy associate administrator for NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems division
Lisa Watson-Morgan, HLS program manager
Tyler Cochran, HLS contracting officer
The HLS is a vital part of NASA’s deep space exploration plans, along with the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, ground systems, and Gateway. NASA is committed to using a commercial HLS to carry the first woman and first person of color to the surface of the Moon during Artemis missions, leading a path to sustainable exploration and preparing humanity for the next giant leap, human exploration of Mars.
For more information about the Artemis program, visit:
The Kremlin-backed news channel RTreports that Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed off on a new space station called ROSS to replace an International Space Station (ISS) expected to suffer an “avalanche” of failures after 2025.
Emirates Lunar Mission’s ‘Rashid’ rover to go to the Moon on ispace’s Mission 1 in 2022
ispace to provide payload delivery, and communication and power services for the rover
Agreement further strengthens UAE-Japan collaboration in space exploration
Dubai, UAE, 14 April 2021 (ispace PR) — The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has signed a contract with Japan’s ispace, inc. (ispace), under which the latter will provide payload delivery services for the ambitious Emirates Lunar Mission. Under this agreement, ispace becomes a key strategic and implementation partner to MBRSC on the Emirates Lunar Mission, the first of its kind from the Arab world.
PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) — Astrobotic announced today its selection of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket in a competitive commercial procurement to launch its Griffin lunar lander to the Moon in late 2023. Griffin will be carrying NASA’s water-hunting Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER).
NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts 2021 Phase II Award Amount: $500,000
Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Pasadena, Calif.
An ultra-long-wavelength radio telescope on the far side of the Moon has significant advantages compared to Earth-based and Earthorbiting telescopes, including
(1) Conducting observations of the Universe at wavelengths longer than 10 meters (i.e., frequencies below 30 MHz), wavelengths at which critical cosmological or extrasolar planetary signatures are predicted to appear, yet cannot be observed from the ground due to absorption from the Earth’s ionosphere; and
(2) The Moon acts as a physical shield that isolates a far-side lunar-surface telescope from radio interference from sources on the Earth’s surface, the ionosphere, Earth-orbiting satellites, and the Sun’s radio emission during the lunar night. We propose the design of a Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT) on the far side of the Moon.
ESA has published Agenda 2025, a strategy that focuses on making the space agency more agile by assisting commercial ventures, developing green technologies, ensuring space security and working more closely with the European Union in devising new flagship programs to benefit the continent’s 500 million citizens.
The plan also includes negotiating with NASA to place the first European astronaut on the moon by the end of the decade as part of the U.S. space agency’s Artemis program.
NASA has selected the research arm of Firefly Aerospace for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award to develop a solar electric transfer stage capable of taking payloads from the Earth to the moon.
“Firefly Research, LLC (FFR) is pleased to propose to NASA the development of a Space Utility Vehicle (SUV) to a CDR [critical design review] level of fidelity,” the technical abstract said. “This vehicle serves as a solar electric transfer stage, offering enough Delta-V to transfer more than 500 kg of payload from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to Low Lunar Orbit (LLO) after launch on a small lift launch vehicle.