Babin Disappointed in NASA Decision to Make NASA Marshall Lead Center for Lunar Lander

Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

DEER PARK, Texas – Congressman Brian Babin (TX-36) issued the following statement in response to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s announcement today awarding the lunar lander program management to Marshall Space Flight Center.

“I am disappointed by the decision from NASA to not place the lunar lander program management at the Johnson Space Center (JSC),” said Babin. “Marshall Space Flight Center does tremendous work for our nation’s space program, but the knowledge base and skill set for this task unquestionably resides at JSC where the Apollo lunar lander program was successfully managed. Yesterday, I joined Senators Cruz and Cornyn in sending a letter to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine requesting that this decision be reconsidered.”

To view the letter sent to Administrator Bridenstine, please click here.

NASA Marshall to Lead Artemis Program’s Human Lunar Lander Development

Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., August 16, 2019 (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was joined Friday by U.S. Representatives Mo Brooks and Robert Aderholt of Alabama and Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to announce the center’s new role leading the agency’s Human Landing System Program for its return to the Moon by 2024.

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NASA Marshall’s Lisa Watson-Morgan to Manage Human Landing System Program

Lisa Watson-Morgan (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Dr. Lisa Watson-Morgan has been named program manager for NASA’s Human Landing System, tasked with rapid development of the lander that will safely carry the first woman and the next man to the Moon’s surface in 2024. That voyage, a critical milestone in NASA’s bold new Artemis Program, will pave the way for a long-term human presence on the Moon by 2028, reigniting America’s leadership in crewed exploration of the solar system and taking the next giant leap toward sending human explorers to Mars.

Watson-Morgan, a 30-year NASA veteran engineer and manager, previously served as deputy director of the Engineering Directorate at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

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Texas Congressional Delegation Wants Crewed Lunar Lander Managed by NASA Johnson

Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is set to speak at Marshall Space Flight Center on Friday where he is expected to announce that the Alabama field center will manage the lander being designed to land American astronauts on the moon by 2024.

Members of Texas’ Congressional delegation are urging Bridenstine to hold off on the decision.

U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) today urged NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to reconsider his decision and refrain from an official announcement until an official briefing is held.

In a letter to Administrator Bridenstine, the lawmakers wrote:

“The Johnson Space Center has served as NASA’s lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century. […] ‘Houston’ was one of the first words ever uttered on the Moon, and Houston, the city that last sent man to the Moon, should be where the lander that will once again send Americans to the lunar surface is developed. Accordingly, we request that you reconsider this decision, and hold off on any formal announcements until we can receive a briefing on this matter that includes the timeline, projected cost, and rationale for this decision.”

No word yet on whether the event will go on as scheduled at 3:10 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 16. The remarks will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website

A press release and the letter sent to Bridenstine follow.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to a news report that NASA will designate the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to lead the development of the human-classed lunar lander for the Artemis program over the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas – which has served as NASA’s lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) today urged NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to reconsider his decision and refrain from an official announcement until an official briefing is held.

In a letter to Administrator Bridenstine, the lawmakers wrote:

“The Johnson Space Center has served as NASA’s lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century. […] ‘Houston’ was one of the first words ever uttered on the Moon, and Houston, the city that last sent man to the Moon, should be where the lander that will once again send Americans to the lunar surface is developed. Accordingly, we request that you reconsider this decision, and hold off on any formal announcements until we can receive a briefing on this matter that includes the timeline, projected cost, and rationale for this decision.”

In 2018, Sens. Cruz and Cornyn sent a letter with Rep. Babin, and former Reps. John Culberson (R-Texas), and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) requesting the Johnson Space Center be the location of the new lunar lander program.

The follow-up letter to Administrator Bridenstine can be read here and below.

August 15, 2019

The Honorable James F. Bridenstine
Administrator
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
300 E. St. SW
Washington, D.C. 20546

Dear Administrator Bridenstine,

We are writing to you today in light of a recent report that this Friday, August 16, 2019, you plan to announce that the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama will manage the development of the lunar lander for the Artemis program and oversee the commercial development of two of the three elements, the Transfer Element and Descent Element, of that lander. According to that same report the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas, will oversee the commercial development of only one of three elements, the Ascent Element. This is very troubling if accurate.

While the Marshall Space Flight Center specializes in rocketry and spacecraft propulsion, and is undoubtedly the leader in these areas, it is the Johnson Space Center, which has been, and continues to be, ground zero for human space exploration. We are deeply concerned that NASA is not only disregarding this history but that splitting up the work on the lander between two different geographic locations is an unnecessary and a counterproductive departure from the unquestionable success of the previous lunar lander program. The integration of development responsibilities into one center-ideally the center with the longest history and deepest institutional knowledge of human space exploration-would be the most cost-efficient, streamlined, and effective approach, and is the approach that NASA should pursue.

As you may recall, on August 28, 2018, we sent you a letter articulating the reasons why the Johnson Space Center would be the most appropriate home for the lunar lander program. In that letter, we highlighted the Johnson Space Center’s storied history as the lead center for human spaceflight and deep experience with human space exploration, and expressed our strong desire that it be selected as the NASA Center responsible for establishing and leading the lunar lander program. While much has changed in the intervening year, our feelings on this matter have not.

The Johnson Space Center has served as NASA’s lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century. It is home to our nation’s astronaut corps, the International Space Station mission operations, and the Orion crew, and the men and women working there possess both the institutional knowledge and technical expertise needed to manage all facets of the successful development of a lunar lander for the Artemis program. “Houston” was one of the first words ever uttered on the Moon, and Houston, the city that last sent man to the Moon, should be where the lander that will once again send Americans to the lunar surface is developed.

Accordingly, we request that you reconsider this decision, and hold off on any formal announcements until we receive a briefing on this matter that includes the timeline, projected cost, and rational for this decision.

Please contact Duncan Rankin at 202-224-5922, Andrew Cooper at 202-224-2934, and Steve Janushkowsky at 202-225-1555 with any questions regarding this request. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Bridenstine to Discuss Human Lunar Lander for Artemis Program at Marshall on Friday

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, joined by U.S. Representatives Mo Brooks, Robert Aderholt, Scott DesJarlais and Brian Babin, will discuss updates on the agency’s plans for landing humans on the Moon by 2024 through the Artemis program at 3:10 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 16. The remarks will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website

From the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Bridenstine will discuss the center’s role in launching astronauts to the Moon and landing them safely on the lunar surface. Brooks, Aderholt, DesJarlais and Babin also will deliver remarks, then join the administrator to take questions from the media.

In addition to making this announcement, Bridenstine will view progress on SLS and other efforts key to landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon in five years.

For more on NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/marshall

Chandrayaan-2 Successfully Enters Lunar Transfer Trajectory

Chandrayaan2 Vikram lander (Credit: ISRO)

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — The final orbit raising manoeuvre of Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was successfully carried out today (August 14, 2019) at 02:21 am IST. During this maneuver, the spacecraft’s liquid engine was fired for about 1203 seconds. With this, Chandrayaan-2 entered the Lunar Transfer Trajectory. Earlier, the spacecraft’s orbit was progressively increased five times during July 23 to August 06, 2019.

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NASA Selects 15 Space Biology Research Proposals to Support Moon, Mars Exploration

Telomeres highlighted on the ends of human chromosomes. These long repetitive DNA sequences protect the ends of chromosomes from degradation and damage. One of the newly selected studies from this NASA Research Announcement will examine how spaceflight-like conditions impact telomere length, and how that in turn impacts muscle cell function. (Credits: McKenna MJ and Bailey S, et al. The NASA Twins Study: A multidimensional analysis of a year-long human spaceflight. Science. 2019;364(6436). doi: 10.1126/science.aau8650)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded 15 grants for new space biology research designed to help the agency achieve its goals under the Artemis lunar exploration program. Teams of investigators will use state-of-the-art genetic and other biological techniques to explore how life adapts and changes during spaceflight, and the results could help support human exploration of the Moon, and ultimately, Mars.

Selected microbiology investigations will study whether changes in bacteria, fungi, and viruses are likely to affect how they interact with crew and material surroundings aboard the International Space Station, with an emphasis on likelihood to cause infections and microbial evolution.

The plant studies will determine important characteristics of plants relevant to space-farming methods for exploration missions. Topics for investigation include how interactions between microbes in soil and on plants change in spaceflight and changes in plant disease defense mechanisms.

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How NASA Will Protect Astronauts From Space Radiation at the Moon

Space radiation is a key factor for astronaut safety as they venture to the Moon. NASA is exploring a variety of techniques and technology to mitigate different types of radiation during space travel. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Joy Ng)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — August 1972, as NASA scientist Ian Richardson remembers it, was hot. In Surrey, England, where he grew up, the fields were brown and dry, and people tried to stay indoors — out of the Sun, televisions on. But for several days that month, his TV picture kept breaking up. “Do not adjust your set,” he recalls the BBC announcing. “Heat isn’t causing the interference. It’s sunspots.”

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CSA Releases Tender for Autonomous Lunar Surface Science Payloads

The moon rising over Half Moon Bay, California on Halloween 2009. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Concept Studies and Technology Developments for Lunar Surface Autonomous Science Payloads (LSASP)

https://buyandsell.gc.ca/procurement-data/tender-notice/PW-MTB-770-15431/list-of-interested-suppliers

Description

Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) on behalf of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) located in St-Hubert, (Quebec), is seeking bids to conduct concept studies and technology developments for Lunar Surface Autonomous Science Payloads. These activities correspond with the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) priorities and mission roadmaps.

This Priority Technology (PT) is specified in APPENDIX A-5 of ANNEX A and the work solicited is the development and advancement of this technology up to potentially TRL 6 (Technology Readiness Levels), (see APPENDIX A-1 of ANNEX A) to reduce technical uncertainties and support approval and implementation of specific potential future space missions of interest to Canada.

Up to six (6) contract is expected to be awarded. For additional information, please refer to Part 4 – Evaluation Procedures and Basis of Selection, of the bid solicitation.

Maximum Funding

The maximum funding available for each Contract resulting from the bid solicitation is $700,000.00 [US $526,397] per contract (Applicable Taxes extra).

Period of Contract

From date of award for up to 18 months.

Intellectual Property

The Intellectual property will vest with the contractor.

NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative Opens Call for Payloads on Artemis 2 Mission

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — CubeSats can be part of a historic mission—Artemis 2—when NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will send astronauts on their first flight aboard the Orion spacecraft farther into the solar system than humanity has ever traveled before. Artemis 2, will mark a significant step forward in NASA’s plans to return humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and future missions to worlds beyond, including Mars, and the small satellites traveling along for the mission will help inform the next steps of exploration.

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The Moon and Mercury May Have Thick Ice Deposits

Mercury (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Earth’s Moon and Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, may contain significantly more water ice than previously thought, according to a new analysis of data from NASA’s LRO and MESSENGER spacecraft.

The potential ice deposits are found in craters near the poles of both worlds. On the Moon, “We found shallow craters tend to be located in areas where surface ice was previously detected near the south pole of the Moon, and inferred this shallowing is most likely due to the presence of buried thick ice deposits,” said lead author Lior Rubanenko of the University of California, Los Angeles.

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NASA Announces Call for Next Phase of Commercial Lunar Payload Services

Commercial landers like this will carry science and technology payloads, including one built by UC Berkeley, to the lunar surface, paving the way for NASA astronauts to land on the Moon by 2024. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has announced the latest opportunity for industry to participate in its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) efforts to deliver science and technology payloads to and near the Moon.

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NASA Announces US Industry Partnerships to Advance Moon, Mars Technology

Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — As NASA prepares to land humans on the Moon by 2024 with the Artemis program, commercial companies are developing new technologies, working toward space ventures of their own, and looking to NASA for assistance. NASA has selected 13 U.S. companies for 19 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies and help maintain American leadership in space.

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NASA’s Uncertain Path Back to the Moon

Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Nothing illustrates the changes wrought by the Trump Administration’s decision to move up the deadline for returning astronauts to the moon from 2028 to 2024 than a pair of contracts NASA awarded for the Lunar Gateway that will serve as a staging point for the landing.

In May, Maxar won a competitively awarded $375 million contract to build the Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element (PPE). NASA released a source selection statement that detailed how officials evaluated the five bids they received and why Maxar’s proposal was superior to the others.

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Orbit Beyond Ends NASA Contract to Land Spacecraft on Moon

Orbit Beyond of Edison, New Jersey, has proposed to fly as many as four payloads to a lava plain in one of the Moon’s craters. (Credit: Orbit Beyond)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Citing “internal corporate challenges”, Orbit Beyond has pulled out of a $97 million contract with NASA to land a spacecraft on the moon in July 2021.

“Orbit Beyond, Inc., has informed NASA of internal corporate challenges that will prevent the timely completion of its awarded task order,” the space agency said in a press release.

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