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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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

NASA Conducts 2nd RS-25 Test in Latest Series for Artemis Moon Missions

RS-25 engine test. (Credit; NASA)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — NASA conducted a second RS-25 single engine hot fire test April 6 as part of a new series to support the development and production of engines for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on future missions to the Moon.

The full-duration hot fire of more than eight minutes (500 seconds) was conducted on the A-1 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis. It is part of a scheduled seven-test series designed to provide valuable data for Aerojet Rocketdyne, lead contractor for the SLS engines, as it begins production of new RS-25 engines for use after the first four SLS flights.

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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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Boeing Statement on SLS Core Hot Fire

Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk, left, and Rick Gilbrech, director of NASA’s Stennis Space Center, right, watch as the core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket undergoes a second hot fire test in the B-2 Test Stand, 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. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Mississippi, March 18, 2021 (Boeing PR) — Deep space exploration took an important step forward today. The cryogenic core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket completed hot fire testing at NASA’s Stennis Space Center as part of the SLS rocket’s Green Run test campaign on the B-2 test stand. The test, which included a full-duration, eight-minute engine burn, demonstrated successful core stage operation and will be used to help certify the stage for flight.

“I want to thank the extraordinary individuals who make up the NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Boeing teams who designed, developed, produced and tested the all-new SLS core stage to enable sustainable human exploration of deep space,” said John Shannon, Boeing SLS vice president and program manager.

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 Completes Full Duration Hot Fire of Space Launch System Core

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — Teams from NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Program conducted a successful full-duration 8 minute (499.6 seconds) hot fire of the Artemis I core stage on Thursday, Mar. 18 at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi on the historic B-2 Test Stand.

The hot fire got underway at around 4:40 p.m. EDT with all four RS-25 engines ignited successfully and produced 1.6 million pounds of thrust, as they will to launch the Artemis I mission to the Moon. During the test the engines consumed more than 700,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellant. The test was conducted with the core stage that will launch that first Artemis mission. Engineers collect data on how the stage behaved during critical operations, such as throttling the engines up and down and moving the engines dynamically in a variety of patterns. In coming days, engineers will scrutinize the data and determine if the stage is ready to be delivered to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida where it will be integrated with the twin solid rocket boosters already stacked in the Vehicle Assembly Building.

To learn more, tune in to NASA TV for a post-test briefing at about 7 p.m. EDT.

Learn more about Green Run, and check back at this blog for updates on the SLS core stage hot fire test. Watch a replay of the test on NASA Television or NASA’s YouTube channel. For all the photos and videos related to the test, visit, the Green Run Album on NASA Images.org.

NASA Green Run Hot Fire Set for Later Today

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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Reports Say Biden Will Nominate Former Florida Senator Bill Nelson to Lead NASA

Florida Senator Bill Nelson

There are reports this morning that former Florida Senator Bill Nelson to be the next administrator of NASA. I don’t see anything official on the White House website, but it seems likely.

The same reports say that former NASA astronaut Pam Melroy will be nominated to serve as deputy administrator. The retired U.S. Air Force colonel served as pilot for two space shuttle missions before commanding the STS-120 mission in 2007. She was a member of the Biden Admimistration’s agency review team for NASA during the transition.

Nelson, 79, served three terms in the U.S. Senate from 2001-2019, where he was a strong backer of NASA and the U.S. space program. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1979-2001. Nelson is considered to be a moderate Democrat.

Rumors of Nelson’s nomination to NASA’s top job have caused considerable consternation among NewSpace supporters. They blame him for helping saddle NASA with the perpetually over budget and behind schedule Space Launch System (SLS) that has been the biggest barrier to sending astronauts back to the moon.

The core stage of SLS is due for a hot fire at the NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. An announcement of Nelson’s appointment today would be interesting if it actually happens.

One action that some hold against Nelson is his flight aboard the space shuttle Columbia while serving in the House. Nelson flew as a payload specialist on the STS-61-C in January 1986. This was the flight immediately prior to the loss of the space shuttle Challenger later that month.

Nelson is one of only two sitting members of Congress to fly into space. Utah Sen. Jake Garn, a Republican, flew as a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Discovery in April 1985.

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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Stacking Complete for Twin Space Launch System Rocket Boosters

Twin solid rocket boosters for the Artemis I mission stacked in the Vehicle Assembly Building. (Credit: NASA/Isaac Watson)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Stacking is complete for the twin Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters for NASA’s Artemis I mission. Over several weeks, workers used one of five massive cranes to place 10 booster segments and nose assemblies on the mobile launcher inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Engineers with Exploration Ground Systems placed the first segment on Nov. 21, 2020, and continued the process until the final nose assembly was placed on March 2. Prior to the arrival of the core stage, the team will finish installing electrical instrumentation and pyrotechnics, then test the systems on the boosters.

When the SLS core stage arrives at Kennedy, technicians will transport it to the VAB, and then stack it on the mobile launcher between the two boosters. The SLS will be the most powerful rocket in the world, producing up to 8.8 million pounds of thrust during its Artemis I launch.

Artemis I will be an uncrewed test of the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket as an integrated system ahead of crewed flights to the Moon. Under the Artemis program, NASA aims to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon and establish sustainable lunar exploration.

Green Run Update: NASA Investigating Valve Performance Before Second Hot Fire

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’s is reviewing the performance of a valve on the core stage of the Space Launch System rocket before proceeding with a second hot fire test at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

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Green Run Update: SLS Team Prepares Core Stage for Second 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. 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., February 12, 2021 (NASA PR) — The core stage Green Run test team has completed refurbishment activities and is preparing the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s core stage and its four RS-25 engines for a second hot fire test.

After the first SLS core stage hot fire test on Jan. 16 at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, the team put the stand and core stage in a configuration so that the stage and stand could be refurbished. This involved installing platforms on the test stand so that technicians could inspect, access, and perform procedures on the hardware.

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NASA Sets Week of Feb. 21 for Repeat of Green Run 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. 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) — Media are invited to attend NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s  second Green Run hot fire – a test of the rocket’s core stage and all of its integrated systems before its flight on the Artemis I lunar mission. NASA is targeting the week of Feb. 21 for the test in the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The date for the test will be set following the test readiness review.

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