The Government Accountability Office released another depressing review this week of NASA’s Artemis program, specifically looking at the space agency’s progress on the Space Launch System, Orion spacecraft and the exploration ground systems (EGS) required to support them.
Cristina Chaplain, GAO’s director of Contracting and National Security Acquisitions, summarized the report’s conclusions on Wednesday in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.
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.
WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – Yesterday, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) leadership reassigned Mr. William H. Gerstenmaier from his post as Associate Administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. He will now serve as special assistant to NASA’s Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard. Mr. William Hill, who served with Gerstenmaier as Deputy Associate Administrator of HEO, was also reassigned to now serve as a special advisor to NASA’s Associate Administrator, Steve Jurczyk.
“I am baffled by the NASA Administrator’s decision to abruptly remove the highly respected heads of NASA’s human spaceflight directorate and its Exploration Systems Development office with no permanent successors identified,” said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). “The Trump Administration’s ill-defined crash program to land astronauts on the Moon in 2024 was going to be challenging enough to achieve under the best of circumstances. Removing experienced engineering leadership from that effort and the rest of the nation’s human spaceflight programs at such a crucial point in time seems misguided at best. The Administrator needs to explain this personnel action, as well as provide an executable program plan accompanied by a credible budget if Congress is to have any basis for supporting the President’s Moon initiative.”
“As the head of NASA’s human exploration program, William Gerstenmaier has a long, successful track record of shepherding people safely into space,” said Chairwoman Kendra Horn (D-OK) of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. “He had just testified on the future of the International Space Station before the Subcommittee that I chair the morning of the announcement. The Subcommittee found his testimony very important given his technical insight and his depth of NASA experience.
“I was surprised about the Administrator’s announcement. I look forward to speaking further with the Administrator about his decision.
“I am concerned about the impacts that such abrupt leadership changes in our nation’s human space flight programs could have at a time when we are at the threshold of testing the integrated Space Launch System and Orion crew vehicle that will take humans into deep space and the commercial space flight systems that will take our astronauts to the International Space Station.”
The Washington Postreports NASA safety reviews of its two commercial crew providers was triggered by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s use of drugs and alcohol.
The review, to begin next year, would look at both Boeing and SpaceX, the companies under contract to fly NASA’s astronauts, and examine “everything and anything that could impact safety” as the companies prepare to fly humans for the first time, William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration, said in an interview with The Washington Post. (more…)
Sharply conflicting opinions about the future of the International Space Station (ISS) and America’s path forward in space were on view last week in a Senate hearing room turned boxing ring.
In one corner was NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenamier, representing a Trump Administration that wants to end direct federal funding for ISS in 2025 in order to pursue an aggressive campaign of sending astronauts back to the moon. NASA would maintain a presence in Earth orbit, becoming one of multiple users aboard a privatized ISS or privately-owned stations.
Early in the classic police comedy, The Naked Gun, Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) is at the hospital with partner Ed Hocken (George Kennedy) visiting the critically wounded Officer Nordberg (O.J. Simpson), who had been shot and left for dead by a group of heroin smuggling thugs.
“Doctors say that Nordberg has a 50/50 chance of living, though there’s only a 10 percent chance of that,” Ed tells Frank.
A similar scene played out Wednesday morning during the House Space Subcommittee’s hearing on the progress of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Only it wasn’t nearly as funny.
House of Representatives Space Subcommittee Hearing
In-Space Propulsion: Strategic Choices and Options Date: Thursday, June 29, 2017 – 10:00am Location: 2318 Rayburn House Office Building
NASA is pursuing several in-space propulsion technologies to advance not only human exploration, but also uncrewed spacecraft operations. The hearing will explore NASA’s current portfolio of investments in in-space propulsion technologies, the state of the various technologies, and how they fit into future space architectures.
Mr. William Gerstenmaier — Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, NASA
Mr. Stephen Jurczyk — Associate Administrator, Space Technology Mission Directorate, NASA
Dr. Mitchell Walker — Chair, Electric Propulsion Technical Committee, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz — Founder and CEO, Ad Astra Rocket Company
Mr. Joe Cassady — Executive Director for Space, Washington Operations, Aerojet Rocketdyne
Dr. Anthony Pancotti — Director of Propulsion Research, MSNW LLC
NASA officials announced on Friday the first combined flight of the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, known as Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), will be conducted without a crew as originally planned. They also said the flight test will slip from 2018 to 2019.
WASHINGTON, DC (NSS PR) — William H. Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC, is the recipient of the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award in the Non-Legislative Government Service category.
This award recognizes Mr. Gerstenmaier’s service as Associate Administrator as well as his dynamic career with NASA, which spans 40 years!
The award will be presented on Saturday, May 27, 2017 at the National Space Society’s 2017 International Space Development Conference® (isdc.nss.org/2017). This will be the 36th ISDC® and will be held in St Louis, Missouri, at the Union Station Hotel. The conference is open to the public and will run from May 25-29, 2017.
The NASA Advisory Council has been meeting in Cleveland this week, receiving program updates from top agency officials. Below is a summary of the first two days based on Tweets by Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) and Marcia Smith (@SpcPlcyOnline). There are updates below on:
Bigelow Aerospace had a media event in North Las Vegas, Nev., today to mark completion of work on its BEAM module, which will be launched to the International Space Station in September aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. The module will be provide additional habitable space on the station as NASA tests how well the inflatable technology performs in space.
NASA and Bigelow Aerospace have scheduled a media availability next Thursday to mark the completion of all major milestones on the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).
Reporters will have the opportunity to see and photograph the BEAM before it’s shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch to the International Space Station later this year. Robert Bigelow, president and founder of Bigelow Aerospace, and William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, will conduct a joint question and answer session with media.
The demonstration of expandable space habitat technology supports NASA’s long-term exploration goals on its journey to Mars, for which the agency will need to develop a deep space habitat for human missions beyond Earth orbit.
The BEAM is scheduled to launch in the second half of this year aboard the eighth SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the station and be installed on the aft port of the station’s Tranquility node.
For more information about Bigelow Aerospace, visit: