Surprise! NASA Artemis Lunar Program Schedule Likely to Slip Again, 2024 Landing Unlikely

An astronaut descends the ladder to explore the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

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Final RS-68A Engine for Delta IV Heavy Completes Hot-fire Acceptance Test

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RS-68A rocket engine successfully completed its final acceptance test April 12, 2021, on the B-1 test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The RS-68A powers the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket to send critical spacecraft into orbit. (Credit: NASA Stennis)

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Today (April 12), the world’s most powerful hydrogen-fueled rocket engine built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, the RS-68A, completed its final hot-fire acceptance test for use on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle on the B-1 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

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NASA to Announce SpaceX Human Lunar Landing System Contract at 4 p.m. Friday

An astronaut descends the ladder to explore the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

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 developing a 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:

http://www.nasa.gov/live

Participating in the teleconference are:

  • Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk
  • 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:

https://www.nasa.gov/artemis

COVID-19 Delays to Cost NASA $3 Billion

High-resolution illustration of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope against a starry background. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will cost NASA an estimated $3 billion due to program delays, according to a report from the space agency’s Office of Inspector General.

The report focused on the pandemic’s impact on 30 major programs and project with life-cycle costs of at least $250 million.

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NASA to Host Virtual Viewing of Orion Spacecraft Drop Test

Engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia begin a new series of four water impact drop tests with a test version of the capsule for NASA’s Orion spacecraft to better understand what Orion and its crew may experience when landing in the Pacific Ocean after Artemis missions to the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Engineers will drop a 14,000-pound test version of the Orion spacecraft into the Hydro Impact Basin at NASA’s Langley Research Center’s Landing and Impact Research Facility in Hampton, Virginia, at 1:45 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 6.

The test will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app and the agency’s website, and will livestream on multiple agency social media platforms, including the Facebook channels for Orion and Langley.

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NASA Names Robyn Gatens Director for International Space Station

Robyn Gatens (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has named Robyn Gatens as director of the International Space Station for the agency following about seven months of her serving as acting director of the program. Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, made the official appointment, effective March 28.

“Robyn’s leadership, experience and strategic vision for the International Space Station have been clearly demonstrated as she’s worked closely with the station team as deputy and acting director,” said Lueders. “I’m confident she will continue our efforts of maximizing the space station for science, research and technology development, including enabling a robust low-Earth orbit economy.”

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NASA Mega Moon Rocket Passes Key Test, Readies for Launch

The core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 Test Stand during a second hot fire test, Thursday, March 18, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The four RS-25 engines fired for the full-duration of 8 minutes during the test and generated 1.6 million pounds of thrust. The hot fire test is the final stage of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the Space Launch System’s core stage prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the Moon. (Credits: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — The largest rocket element NASA has ever built, the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, fired its four RS-25 engines for 8 minutes and 19 seconds Thursday at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The successful test, known as a hot fire, is a critical milestone ahead of the agency’s Artemis I mission, which will send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a test flight around the Moon and back to Earth, paving the way for future Artemis missions with astronauts.

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NASA TV to Air Second Rocket Test for Artemis Moon Missions

The core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 Test Stand during a scheduled eight minute duration hot fire test, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The four RS-25 engines fired for a little more than one minute. The hot fire test is the final stage of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the Space Launch System’s core stage prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the Moon. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — NASA is targeting a two-hour test window that opens at 3 p.m. EDT Thursday, March 18, for the second hot fire test of the core stage for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

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Green Run Update: NASA Targets March 18 for SLS Hot Fire Test

The core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 Test Stand during a scheduled eight minute duration hot fire test, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — NASA is targeting Thursday, March 18 for the second hot fire of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s core stage at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

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Lockheed Martin And NEC Put AI To Work On Programs Like NASA’s Artemis Mission

Orion is revealed for one of the final times on Jan. 14, as it is readied atop its transport pallet from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, along its path to the pad ahead of the Artemis I launch. Teams across the globe have worked tirelessly to assemble the spacecraft which will receive a protective covering prior to departing for the Multi-Payload Processing Facility to begin ground processing by the Exploration Ground Systems and Jacobs teams. (Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

DENVER, March 1, 2021 (Lockheed Martin PR) — Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) have signed a joint collaboration agreement to extend their partnership utilizing NEC’s System Invariant Analysis Technology (SIAT). The companies are also finalizing a licensing agreement with a multi-year option.

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NASA’s $85 Billion Artemis Program

Credit: NASA OIG

The NASA Office of Inspector General released this snap shot of the space agency’s Artemis program to land astronauts on the moon. Total projected cost through fiscal year 2025: $85.7 billion. Only $35.2 billion has been obligated. An addition $50.5 billion has been requested.

Credit: NASA OIG

Three More Service Modules for Artemis to be Built in Europe

Artist’s impression of Orion over Earth. (Credit: NASA/ESA/ATG Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA signed a further contract with Airbus for the construction of three more European Service Modules for Orion, NASA’s spacecraft that will fly astronauts to the Moon and lunar Gateway as part of the Artemis programme.

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Rocket Roundup: NASA Doesn’t Get What It Wanted or Needed

The core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 Test Stand during a scheduled eight minute duration hot fire test, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The four RS-25 engines fired for a little more than one minute. The hot fire test is the final stage of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the Space Launch System’s core stage prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the Moon. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

There’s an old saying that I made up just the other day. You can’t always get what you want, but if you test enough times, you get what you need.

Yes, I know. It’s unwieldy. And I expect a copyright infringement letter from the Rolling Stones’ shortly. Forgive me; it’s really hard to come up with a brand new saying that sounds old on short notice.

While we wait for the lawyers to weigh in, let’s talk about what happened over the weekend.

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Orion Ready to Fuel Up for Artemis I Mission

Orion is revealed for one of the final times on Jan. 14, as it is readied atop its transport pallet from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, along its path to the pad ahead of the Artemis I launch. Teams across the globe have worked tirelessly to assemble the spacecraft which will receive a protective covering prior to departing for the Multi-Payload Processing Facility to begin ground processing by the Exploration Ground Systems and Jacobs teams. (Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

by Linda Herridge
NASA’s John  F. Kennedy Space Center

The Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis I mission is taking one more step closer to its flight to the Moon. On Jan. 14, the spacecraft was lifted out of the stand in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida where engineers have meticulously outfitted it with thousands of components and tested its systems and subsystems to ensure it can accomplish its mission. With assembly complete, teams are moving it to its next facility for fueling and officially transferring the spacecraft to NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) team responsible for processing Orion for its launch later this year.

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European Gateway Module to be Built in France as Thomas Pesquet Readies for Second Spaceflight

Artemis Gateway orbiting the moon. (Credit: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA signed a contract today with Thales Alenia Space to start building the European module for the lunar Gateway that will provide the new human exploration facility with communications and refuelling.

The Gateway is being built by the partners of the International Space Station and will enable sustainable exploration around – and on – the Moon, while allowing for space research and demonstrating the technologies and processes necessary to conduct a future mission to Mars.

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