Challenging Ourselves to Create the Next Generation of Lunar Explorers

Moon (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Space exploration brings humanity some of its greatest challenges and opportunities. We faced this hard fact on April 11 when the Beresheet spacecraft developed by Israel’s SpaceIL failed to successfully land on the Moon’s surface. While the Beresheet spacecraft can claim many accomplishments, including being the first privately funded lunar spacecraft, we can learn many things from its failures. These are lessons we, too, must consider as NASA tries to conquer similar challenges as we move forward to the Moon with commercial and international partners.

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NASA ‘Nose’ Importance of Humans, Robots Exploring Together

The Robotic External Leak Locator flight unit before launch. (Credit: NASA)

By Kathryn Cawdrey
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

NASA is sending humans forward to the Moon, this time to stay. Upcoming expeditions to the Moon will require making every moment of astronaut time outside the safety of the Gateway in orbit and lunar lander system on the surface count. Robotics will enable lunar crews to do more while minimizing their risk.

NASA’s Satellite Servicing Projects Division is teaming up with the International Space Station to develop the technologies for this kind of astronaut-robotic collaboration, and tomorrow is launching a Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) aboard Cygnus on Northrop Grumman’s 11th Commercial Resupply Services mission.

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NASA KSC Scientist Leading Team to Combat Lunar Dust

Dr. Carlos Calle, lead scientist in the Electrostatics and Surface Physics Laboratory at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, prepares an Electrostatic Dust Shield (EDS) for testing on July 19, 2018. The EDS technology launched to the International Space Station April 17, 2019, as part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE)-11 mission. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Dust can be a nuisance — on Earth and the Moon. Astronauts exploring the Moon’s South Pole will need a way to help keep pesky lunar dust out of hard to reach places.

A team at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida may have the solution. The technology launched to the space station April 17, 2019, from Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia as part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE)-11 mission.

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CSA Awards Funding to Prepare Canadian Companies, Universities and Students for Future Lunar Missions

JUNO rover (Credit : Canadian Space Agency)

Longueuil, Quebec (CSA PR) — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has awarded funding worth $700,000 [US$522,368] to a Canadian firm and two universities for projects that will enable Canadian firms to advance key technologies and develop their own potential, while offering training opportunities and hands-on experience for students and young professionals.

These projects will be part of the CSA‘s Lunar Exploration Analogue Deployment (LEAD), which will position Canada for potential future contributions to lunar rover missions.

Grants awarded under the Flights and Fieldwork for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST) – LEAD Announcement of Opportunity

 
OrganizationCityProvinceProjectGrant value
University of Western OntarioLondonOntarioCanLunar – A Canadian Lunar Sample Return Analogue Mission$135,275
University of WinnipegWinnipegManitobaExploring Geological Variations and ISRU Potential at the Lanzarote Lunar Analogue Site$162,500
University of Western OntarioLondonOntarioField Deployment of in situ Learning Algorithms for Classifying Planetary Materials$153,670
Total$451,445

Contribution awarded under the Space Technology Development Program – LEAD Announcement of Opportunity

OrganizationCityProvinceProjectContribution value
Canadensys Aerospace CorporationBoltonOntarioLEAD Capability Demonstration$249,963

Beresheet Crashed Due to Errand Command Sent to Fix Problem

Beresheet lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

YEHUD, Israel, April 17, 2019 (SpaceIL PR) — According to preliminary investigation of the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet’s landing manuever, it appears that a manual command was entered into the spacecraft’s computer. This led to a chain reaction in the spacecraft, during which the main engine switched off, which prevent it from activating further.

SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) teams continue to investigate further, in order to understand the full picture of what occurred during the mission. In the coming weeks, final results of the investigation will be released.

SpaceIL President Mr. Morris Kahn said: “I am proud of SpaceIL’s team of engineers for their wonderful work and dedication, and such cases are an integral part of such a complex and pioneering project. What is important now is to learn the best possible lessons from our mistakes and bravely continue forward. That’s the message we’d like to convey to the people in Israel and the entire Jewish world. This is the spirit of the Beresheet project.”

Editor’s Note: The Jerusalem Post reports the command that was sent was intended to solve a problem that developed during descent:

A command intended to correct a malfunction in one of the Beresheet spacecraft’s inertial measurement unit (IMUs) led to a chain of events which turned off its main engine during landing, according to a preliminary investigation conducted by SpaceIL….

“There was no incident like this since the mission began,” Anteby told reporters. “After it occurred, an activation command was sent to [the IMU], causing a chain of events in which the main engine stopped and was unable to return to continuous operation.”

While the spacecraft attempted to restart its engine several times, the attempts proved unsuccessful.

Moon’s South Pole in NASA’s Landing Sites

In this multi-temporal illumination map of the lunar south pole, Shackleton crater (19 km diameter) is in the center, the south pole is located approximately at 9 o’clock on its rim. The map was created from images from the camera aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is working right now to send American astronauts to the surface of the Moon in five years, and the agency has its sights set on a place no humans have ever gone before: the lunar South Pole.

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Meteoroid Strikes Eject Precious Water From Moon

Artist’s concept of the LADEE spacecraft (left) detecting water vapor from meteoroid impacts on the Moon (right). (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Conceptual Image Lab)

by Elizabeth Zubritsky
NASA

Researchers from NASA and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, report that streams of meteoroids striking the Moon infuse the thin lunar atmosphere with a short-lived water vapor.

The findings will help scientists understand the history of lunar water — a potential resource for sustaining long term operations on the Moon and human exploration of deep space. Models had predicted that meteoroid impacts could release water from the Moon as a vapor, but scientists hadn’t yet observed the phenomenon.

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NASA’s Landmark Twins Study Reveals Resilience of Human Body in Space

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Results from NASA’s landmark Twins Study, which took place from 2015-2016, were published Thursday in Science. The integrated paper — encompassing work from 10 research teams — reveals some interesting, surprising and reassuring data about how one human body adapted to — and recovered from — the extreme environment of space.

The Twins Study provides the first integrated biomolecular view into how the human body responds to the spaceflight environment, and serves as a genomic stepping stone to better understand how to maintain crew health during human expeditions to the Moon and Mars.

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XPRIZE Gives $1 Million Award to SpaceIL

Beresheet lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

YEHUD, Israel (XPRIZE PR) — XPRIZE will recognize SpaceIL’s achievement with a $1 million Moonshot Award for its successful entry into lunar orbit and for its attempt to land on the lunar surface – both of which are “firsts” for a privately-funded entity, marking a new era in space exploration.

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Bersheet Hit Moon at 500 Km/h After Engine Failure

Beresheet lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

YEHUD, Israel, April 12, 2019 (SpaceIL PR) — Preliminary data supplied by the engineering teams of SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IA) suggests a technical glitch in one of Beresheet’s components triggered the chain of events yesterday that caused the main engine of the spacecraft to malfunction. Without the main engine working prop3erly, it was impossible to stop Beresheet’s velocity. Beresheet overcame the issue by restarting the engine. However, by that time, its velocity was too high to slow down and the landing could not be completed as planned.

Preliminary technical information collected by the teams shows that the first technical issue occurred at 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) above the moon. At 150 meters (492 feet) from the ground, when the connection with the spacecraft was lost completely, Beresheet was moving vertically at 500 km/h (310.7 miles) to the inevitable collision with the lunar surface. Comprehensive tests will be held next week to gain a better understanding of the events.

SpaceIL’s Beresheet Spacecraft Crashes on Moon

A graphic showing Beresheet’s path to the Moon. Dates correspond with Israel Standard Time. (Credits: SpaceIL)

The first privately funded moon landing crashed onto the lunar surface on Thursday.

SpaceIL’s Beresheet lander got about 10 km above the moon when it began experiencing a problem with its engine. Communications were lost and then controllers announced that the spacecraft had crashed.

“If at first you don’t succeed, you try again,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who joined the SpaceIL team at the control center.

The $100 mission by the former Google Lunar X Prize team was largely unwritten by billionaire Morris Kahn with some funding assistance from the Israel Space Agency.

Israel was attempting to become the fourth nation to successfully land on the moon after the United States, Soviet Union and China.

Officials put a brave face on the failure, saying SpaceIL had been successful in placing the satellite into orbit around the moon before today’s unsuccessful landing attempt.

If the landing had succeeded, SpaceIL would have received a $1 million award XPRIZE Chairman Peter Diamandis. XPRIZE had run the Google Lunar X Prize, which was a $30 million competition to land a rover on the moon capable of traveling 500 meters across the surface.

Google canceled the competition in January 2018 after numerous extensions when it became clear that none of the remaining teams was close to winning the prize.

We Return to the Moon, But We Won’t Do It Alone

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Jim Bridenstine Blog
NASA Administrator

When President Donald Trump charged NASA with returning to the Moon, he specified that we partner with industry and other nations to make it possible. Today, on the first day of the 35thSpace Symposium in Colorado we continue our commitment to work with innovative partners as we chart our path forward to the moon in 2024.

The Space Symposium provided me and the NASA team a unique opportunity for dialogue, as it is the first major international public forum to discuss President Trump’s and Vice President Pence’s 2024 moon challenge.  Earlier today I met with several members of the international community to discuss our lunar exploration plans and reiterated NASA’s commitment to move forward to the Moon with strong international collaboration.

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NASA Publishes Pre-solicitation for Human Lunar Lander Ascent System

NASA’s cancelled Altair lander on the moon. (Credit: NASA)

Human Landing System – Ascent Element
Solicitation Number: NNH19ZCQ001K_APP-H
Notice Type: Pre-solicitation
Full Pre-solicitation

Synopsis:
Added: Apr 08, 2019 3:30 pm

NASA intends to release a solicitation under the second Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) to seek proposals from industry in support of design analysis, technology maturation, system development and integration, and space flight demonstrations for the Ascent Element of the Human Landing System (HLS), an integrated lunar transportation system. The Ascent Element will provide a safe environment as humans are transported to the lunar surface. The Ascent Element also provides powered ascent for the crew to return them safely from the lunar surface. The primary objective of this Appendix to the NextSTEP-2 BAA is to enable rapid development and flight demonstrations of human lunar landers.

Contracts awarded under Appendix H may have multiple phases. The first phase will be for brief studies in order to mature requirements, tailor applicable standards, procure long-lead parts and implement technology maturation plans for early risk reduction. Following the study, NASA intends to execute future phases that may result in multiple awards, for the Design, Development, Test, and Evaluation (DDT&E) and flight demonstrations of Ascent Elements. The detailed study requirements and additional information on the overall acquisition strategy will be contained in the forthcoming Appendix H solicitation.

NASA will use the information gained through these initial studies to inform the performance requirements for the HLS and will work with industry to continue to mature the approach for future missions.

Bridenstine Appoints Sirangelo as Special Assistant to Oversee Lunar Plans

Mark Sirangelo (Credit: SNC)

Appointment of Mark Sirangelo
Message from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Mark Sirangelo as Special Assistant to the Administrator. In this role, Mark will have broad responsibility to work across the Mission Directorates to further develop the Exploration Campaign. This includes a strategy to meet the Administration’s policy to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024. he will also lead the planning for the proposed agency restructuring to creat the Moon to Mars Mission Directorate that will manage the programs to develop the Gateway, human rated lander and surface systems to return to the Moon and establish a permanent presence. The new proposed Directorate will also manage the Exploration Research and Technology programs to enable capabilities for exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Mark N. Sirangelo has a long history in space and aerospace having lead program teams that participated in over 300 space missions, including over 20 planetary missions and 70 NASA missions. His recent work experience has been as Scholar in Residence for Engineering, Applied Science and Aerospace at the University of Colorado. Formerly, he was the head of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems and CEO of SpaceDev, its predecessor company. He also served on the Defense Innovation Board for the Secretary of Defense and as the Chief Innovation Officer of the State of Colorado.

His personal and organizational recognitions include being inducted int the Space Foundation’s Technology Hall of Fame, being an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, named one of the World’s Top 10 Innovative Space Companies by Fast Company, and recognized as Manufacturer Builder of the the Year by ColoradoBiz, The Best Place to Work by the Business Journals, and part of Inc. Magazine’s top 200 companies.

Mr. Sirangelo was a founding member of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and the founder and Chairman of eSpace, the Center for Space Entrepreneurship. He has been working to make the world a safer place for children as a foundational Board member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

He holds Doctorate, MBA and Bachelor of Science degrees, is a long-term licensed pilot, and has served his country proudly as a U.S. Army officer.

Please join me in welcoming Mark to the NASA leadership team.