NASA Glenn Continued Research in 2021 for Space Exploration and Next-Gen Aeronautics

Credit: NASA

CLEVELAND, Ohio (NASA PR) — Looking deeper at the way fire behaves in space, Glenn researchers delivered the fifth in a series of NASA investigations in January. The Spacecraft Fire Safety Experiment-V (Saffire-V) successfully tested larger, more dynamic fires for over 26 hours inside Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft.

As NASA Glenn continued to manage the difficulties of the pandemic, scientific and technology research continued at a rapid clip this year with an eye toward the future.

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Mission Critical AEPS Thruster Completes Development Testing for NASA’s Lunar Gateway

Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) thruster recently completed development testing. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

August 9, 2021 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) thruster that will be employed on the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) for NASA’s international lunar Gateway recently completed development testing. The next milestone for the program will be the PPE Preliminary Design Review in October. Three 12 kilowatt (kW) AEPS thrusters will serve as the primary source of propulsion on the PPE to enable orbit transfer and in-space maneuvering.

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NASA Space Technology Budget Request Fact Sheet

NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

NASA FACT SHEET
FY 2022 Budget Request
Space Technology
($ Millions)

The Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) develops transformative, cross-cutting technologies that lead to research and technology breakthroughs to enable NASA’s missions and is broadening its focus on cross-cutting space technologies that will support creating good jobs in a growing space industry.

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NASA Artemis Program Faces Significant Challenges on Human Lunar Landing in 2024

Artist concept of the SpaceX Starship on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The combination of an ambitious schedule, technical challenges and immature technology will make it difficult for NASA to meet its goal of landing two astronauts on the moon in 2024, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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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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Maxar and Busek Thruster System for NASA Lunar Gateway Passes Critical Milestone

Concept art of Maxar’s Power and Propulsion Element with six Hall effect thrusters. (Credit: Maxar Technologies)

NATICK, Mass., March 18, 2021 (Busek Co. PR) — Busek Co., a developer of high-performance electric propulsion technology for space applications, and Maxar Technologies (NYSE: MAXR) (TSX: MAXR), a trusted partner and innovator in Earth intelligence and Space Infrastructure, confirmed today the successful completion of an end-to-end hot fire test campaign validating all major elements of the 6-kilowatt solar electric propulsion (SEP) subsystem for the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) of NASA’s Gateway in lunar orbit.

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NASA Awards Contract to SpaceX to Launch Initial Elements for Lunar Outpost

An illustration of the Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element and Habitation and Logistics Outpost in orbit around the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), the foundational elements of the Gateway. As the first long-term orbiting outpost around the Moon, the Gateway is critical to supporting sustainable astronauts missions under the agency’s Artemis program.

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

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Thales Alenia Space Chosen by Northrop Grumman to Provide Pressurized Module for HALO

Artist illustration of Northrop Grumman’s HALO module and the Power Propulsion Element which form the first critical component of NASA’s Gateway. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)
  • HALO (Habitation And Logistics Outpost): the initial crew cabin for astronauts visiting the lunar Gateway
  • Derived from Cygnus 10-year success story with Thales Alenia Space flight proven technologies
  • With HALO, Thales Alenia Space is strengthening its contribution to the Lunar Gateway

TURIN, Italy, December 7, 2020 (Thales Alenia Space PR) –  Thales Alenia Space, the joint company between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has signed a contract with Northrop Grumman to develop the pressurized module for HALO (Habitation And Logistics Outpost) that will be one of the first two elements to form the lunar Gateway which will be launched in late 2023.

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Lunar Gateway Instruments to Improve Weather Forecasting for Artemis Astronauts

Artist’s concept of the Gateway Power and Propulsion Element, or PPE, and Habitation and Logistics Outpost, or HALO, in orbit around the Moon. The gold box on the right side of the image depicts the HERMES payload. The ERSA payload is the silver box just below it. (Credits: NASA)

by Miles Hatfield
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — One of the first things people want to know before taking a trip is what the weather will be like wherever they are headed. For Artemis astronauts traveling on missions to the Moon, two space weather instrument suites, NASA’s HERMES and ESA’s ERSA, will provide an early forecast. Weather in this case means energized, subatomic particles and electromagnetic fields hurtling through the solar system.

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OIG Audit: NASA Gateway Elements Behind Schedule, Over Budget

Artemis Gateway (Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s attempt to use innovative acquisition practices to speed up development of the lunar Gateway has left the first two elements of the station over budget and behind schedule, according to a new audit from the space agency’s Office of Inspector General.

It is also unlikely the human-tended Gateway will be capable of supporting the planned 2024 mission to land American astronauts at the south pole of the moon, the audit concluded.

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GAO: NASA Performance on Major Projects Continues to Deteriorate

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its latest assessment of NASA’s major projects at the end of April. It found that NASA’s performance on its major projects continued to deteriorate on cost and schedule. (Full Report)

Below are key excerpts from the report that provide an overview of where NASA stands on its major projects. Although GAO did not analyze the Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon, the watchdog warned the Trump Administration’s decision to move the landing date up from 2028 to 2024 will put more pressure on the space agency.

“Looking ahead, NASA will continue to face significant cost and schedule risks as it undertakes complex efforts to return to the moon under an aggressive time frame,” the report stated.

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NASA Awards Northrop Grumman Artemis Contract for Gateway Crew Cabin

Artist’s concept of the Gateway power and propulsion and Habitation and Logistics Outpost, or HALO, in orbit around the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has finalized the contract for the initial crew module of the agency’s Gateway lunar orbiting outpost.

Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Space, has been awarded $187 million to design the habitation and logistics outpost (HALO) for the Gateway, which is part of NASA’s Artemis program and will help the agency build a sustainable presence at the Moon. This award funds HALO’s design through its preliminary design review, expected by the end of 2020.

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Lunar Gateway’s Power & Propulsion Element Faces Cost Increases

The power and propulsion element of NASA’s Gateway is a high-power, 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft – three times more powerful than current capabilities. (Credits: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The first element of NASA’s lunar Gateway station will cost more than the original $375 million firm-fixed contract due to the way the space agency awarded the project to Maxar Technologies, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) also might not be able to achieve its goal of demonstrating an advanced Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) system in lunar orbit due to delays in the development of that technology, GAO found.

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