Recently in Artemis Category

It's tough being small in a big-suit world. We still spacewalked., Op Ed, Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, Washington Post

"One could say that the first all-female spacewalk was worth celebrating simply because it overcame history. It was the story of two girls who gazed at the stars with an improbable dream, who as women were given the "go" to egress the airlock. But there's more than that. The real achievement is the collective acknowledgment that it is no longer okay to move forward without everyone moving together. NASA's mission is to answer humanity's call to explore. If there is any part of humanity that's not on that journey, we are not achieving our mission. The efforts to equalize exploration are what really ought to be celebrated. ... We are entering a new era where we must commit to go boldly only if that means we all go, an era in which any person who dares to dream will have the opportunity to contribute. Our successes will be greater because not a single innovative idea will be turned away -- that is what diversity and inclusion mean. And that is why a long-overdue all-female spacewalk so captivated the world it served."

The White House puts a price on the SLS rocket--and it's a lot, Ars Technica

"The Europa mission could be launched by a commercial rocket," Vought wrote to the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Alabama Republican Richard Shelby. "At an estimated cost of over $2 billion per launch for the SLS once development is complete, the use of a commercial launch vehicle would provide over $1.5 billion in cost savings. The Administration urges the Congress to provide NASA the flexibility called for by the NASA Inspector General."

Keith's note: Over the years I asked Bill Gerstenmaier what the cost of an SLS launch was on a regular basis. I never got an answer. Instead I'd usually get some sort of "we'll get back to you" or "we're still working on that". The ususal assumption was around $1 billion with an expectation that it would be much more. Well, now it is much more.

Of course NASA never explains where they get these numbers. They never include the real cost i.e. going back through the development of SLS into Ares V where this all started. Nor do they get into improvements in ground systems, and dead ends like certifying J-2 for Ares V and then mothballing that effort. Oh yes and then there is the cost of making reusable Shuttle SSMEs into disposable RS-25s. And then there is the cost of the payload - the only actual payload for SLS that currently exists: Orion (unless you count the cubesats that will be launched). NASA talks about using EUS but there is zero money for that new upper stage.

The $2 billion may well be the cost per unit now that all of the sunk costs are spent. But if you look at what it actually took to get to the point of being being able to actually build and fly this rocket, the reals cost per launch is much, much more than $2 billion.

Commerce Leaders Introduce the NASA Authorization Act of 2019

"The NASA Authorization Act would:

• Support NASA's human spaceflight and exploration efforts to return American astronauts to the Moon and prepare for future journeys to Mars.
• Extend authorization for the International Space Station through 2030 and direct NASA to take steps to grow the "space economy."
• Require the United States to maintain a continuous human presence in low-Earth orbit through and beyond the useful life of the ISS.
• Support NASA's leadership in coordinating the development of next generation spacesuits.
• Leverage private sector investment to bolster human space exploration.
• Authorize NASA's Enhanced Use Leasing (EUL) authority. EUL allows companies to lease vacant or underutilized buildings owned by NASA with lease proceeds helping to fund capital improvements at the NASA centers.
• Provide rapid acquisition authorities similar to those that have proven successful at the Department of Defense and other agencies.
• Direct NASA to maintain and upgrade irreplaceable rocket launch and test infrastructure.
• Support vital life and physical science research to ensure that humans can live in deep space safely.
• Direct NASA to improve upon its planetary defense measures in order to protect Earth from asteroids and other near-Earth objects.
• Affirm NASA's commitment to aeronautics research by supporting a robust X-plane program as well as work on efficient propulsion concepts and advanced composites.
• Support NASA's STEM education and workforce efforts."

NASA shares details of lunar surface missions--and they're pretty cool

"One of the limitations on returning samples is the Orion spacecraft, which will carry astronauts back from lunar orbit to Earth. Chavers said the Orion spacecraft does not have any designated space for a box of sample rocks taken from the lunar surface. "We just don't know what the capability will be," Chavers said of bringing rocks back to Earth inside Orion. This would seem to be an important detail to nail down."

Keith's note: There are times when I am convinced that NASA people are simply unaware that people are actually listening to what they say. The answer should have been "Of course we'll be bringing Moon rocks back. We're working on the exact mass/volume right now" - unless NASA is actually not planning to bring Moon rocks back to Earth - after spending tens of billions to go back to the Moon.

Rock Climbing Destination Seneca Rocks, West Virginia Viewed By A Climber In Space, SpaceRef

"Christina H Koch @Astro_Christina "The famous knife edge of Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, from the @Space_Station. This rock formation is where I first learned traditional lead-style rock climbing and gained the confidence and teamwork skills that I continue to rely on every day."

Taking In The View From Wharton Ridge, SpaceRef

"Bob was an astrobiologist before the word had even been coined. He was an adventurer and a jack of all trades. Among other things, he spent a lot of time diving under Antarctic ice and roaming the dry valleys of Antarctica with Chris McKay and Dale Andersen. ... Bob was an avid climber and mountaineer and we went rock climbing a bunch of times mostly in the immediate DC area. One trip in particular, to Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, on a stunning day (1 September 1991 to be exact) is etched into my mind. It was such a classic rock climbing day."

From Cavewalking To Spacewalking, ESA

"It might not be obvious, but there are many similarities between working deep underground and in outer space. Just as with spacewalks, underground 'cavewalks' require safety tethering, 3D orientation, careful planning and teamwork. Cave explorers need to stay alert in an environment where they are deprived of natural light and every move is a step into the unknown. ESA's CAVES training course has been taking astronauts below Earth's surface and prepared them to work safely in an environment where the terrain, climate and climbing techniques pose high demands."

My Star Trek Episode at Everest, SpaceRef

"My job was to stay at Everest Base Camp (analogous to working aboard the space station/space shuttle - or an Apollo Command Module in lunar orbit) and relay news of Scott's climb (his EVA, if you will) while he ventured forth into the so-called "death zone" on Everest. His goal: being able to see an orbital sunrise - on Earth. Back home our mission support was provided by seasoned CNN journalist and almost-astronaut Miles O'Brien. Meanwhile another friend, astronaut John Grunsfeld (also a mountaineer) would spend several weeks in orbit fixing Hubble while Scott and I were at Everest."

Keith's note: If you look at Christina's photo you can see the ridge at Seneca Rocks that I climbed with my late friend Bob Wharton - from orbit. There's a ridge named after Bob on Mars - you can see that from orbit too. A piece of the Moon went to Everest with my friend Scott. It is now in orbit on the ISS with a piece of the summit of Everest. Christina sought out her rock climbing origins - from orbit.

The people who will visit other worlds will need skills not usually associated with astronauts. Some of the newer astronauts have them. Many of the Apollo astronauts had them. More astronauts with these skills are needed if NASA is truly going to explore the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

For the past 30 years no American astronaut has needed any real exploration skills on ISS. They just pushed buttons and sometimes did EVAs. Exploring other worlds - in person - requires a skillset that is mostly absent at NASA.Yes, NASA did NEEMO and Desert RATS, but these things are done on a shoestring. Nothing akin to Apollo training is going on. Planning to explore other worlds in person also requires an expeditionary mindset that is also mostly absent - except for the people who drive robots from JPL. It would be wrong to repeat Apollo but it would be wise to emulate how they did it. They sent explorers to explore. Calling each new ISS crew another "expedition" has always baffled me since they just go in circles. They do not actually go anywhere.

Keith's update: By coincidence this came out onTuesday. Let me dial back my statement a bit about no one having expeditionary expertise.

NASA Administrator, Astronaut Candidate to Visit University of North Carolina

"As an undergraduate researcher - and later a master's student - in Marine Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill, Cardman studied microorganisms in subsurface environments, ranging from caves to deep sea sediments. Cardman's field experience includes multiple Antarctic expeditions, work aboard research vessels, and NASA analog missions in British Columbia, Idaho, and Hawaii. Cardman was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class and reported for duty in August 2017. After completing her training, Cardman will be assigned technical duties in the NASA Astronaut Office while she awaits a flight assignment."

NASA should shed lesser priorities to achieve a 2024 moon landing, Op Ed, Doug Cooke

"NASA should focus major new development on an integrated lander/ascent vehicle launched on an SLS 1B. With Orion launched on a separate SLS, the lunar landing would be achieved with these two flights, and at most one commercial launch with additional fuel. This is a much simpler approach with a significantly higher probability of success."

Keith's note: On one hand Boeing consultant Doug Cooke wants to kill Gateway because it adds complexity and increases the number of points where a failure could derail the Moon 2024 thing. No argument there. He then goes on to push for the SLS variant that features Boeing's Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) - and requires more SLS flights. The net result is likely going to be a wash when it comes to cost. And given the SLS program's chronic inability to do anything on time or within budget, there are likely to be SLS and EUS issues that will also cause the 2024 deadline to be missed.

Or, NASA could adopt an open source, multi-path, modular approach relying on existing commercial launchers, and standard interfaces. And if you have to build SLS then use it as a cargo vehicle only. If a large effort is to be mounted on the Moon and cislunar space then propellant depots should be thrown into the mix. Relying on SLS in an architecture for sending Americans and cargo back to the Moon is, itself, the prime risk factor so long as it remains in the critical path - whether it is 2024 or 2028 that you are aiming for.

Its anyone's guess right now as to how the election will turn out. As we've all seen, when a new Administration arrives they have a strong tendency to fiddle with the previous Administration's space goals. Adopting flexibility in terms of launch vehicles and space assets is the best way to assure that something will survive a potential transition and put people on the Moon. But sticking with a program that is utterly reliant upon SLS - a program that gets more expensive and extends its target date with every passing day - is not the best way to assure that we'll be heading back to the Moon. And if this whole Moon thing is supposedly being done to get humans to Mars sooner, then the need to be more flexible and creative is underscored.

Then again Jeff and Elon may just make this whole NASA Moon/Mars thing moot.

Keith's note: This is a perfect example of so-called "soft power". This costs NASA virtually - literally - nothing. Having worked with folks in Nepal on things related to this, the mere visibility of the NASA logo and recognition by NASA is enticement enough to generate in-country resources and support. Done properly you can have a global awareness of what NASA is and does and spark interest in other nation's space efforts. And the cases where a country has no space activities, spur their development. One would hope that this becomes part of what NASA includes in its Artemis outreach activities - since the ultimate goal is to go there with other nations.

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Understanding NASA's Global Reach, Earlier post

"A young boy in Chile wearing a NASA t-shirt explains a computer game to Pete Worden from Breakthrough Initiatives. How did he get that t-shirt? Why is he wearing it? ... You would think that NASA would want to capitalize on such a potent branding strength. To be certain, they try. Due to Federal regulations the NASA logo cannot be used for commercial purposes or to imply any endorsement without formal approval by NASA. While this limits its use to some extent NASA is able to control its brand - something that is very important. But the one thing that you would think that NASA should be able to do i.e. use that logo in overt advertising and promotion, is banned by Federal law. Congress seems to think that NASA promotes itself too much. Yet they simultaneously chide NASA for not explaining itself better."

NASA Commits to Future Artemis Missions With More SLS Rocket Stages

"For the first three Artemis missions, the SLS rocket uses an interim cryogenic propulsion stage to send the Orion spacecraft to the Moon. The SLS rocket is designed to meet a variety of mission needs by evolving to carry greater mass and volume with a more powerful EUS. The EUS is an important part of Artemis infrastructure needed to send astronauts and large cargo together, or larger cargo-only shipments, to the Moon, Mars and deep space. NASA aims to use the first EUS on the Artemis IV mission, and additional core stages and upper stages will support either crewed Artemis missions, science missions or cargo missions. "The exploration upper stage will truly open up the universe by providing even more lift capability to deep space," said Julie Bassler, the SLS Stages manager at Marshall. "The exploration upper stage will provide the power to send more than 45 metric tons, or 99 thousand pounds, to lunar orbit."

NASA will award Boeing a cost-plus contract for up to 10 SLS rockets, Ars Technica

"If it seems remarkable that a government contractor would get a cost-plus contract to produce a rocket that it has had nearly a decade to learn how to build, and which has moved into production, and which is based on heritage technology--that's because it is. However, in their negotiations with NASA, companies like Boeing (and Lockheed Martin, which recently got a similar deal for the Orion spacecraft) know they have strong political backers. In the case of the SLS rocket, the Alabama delegation, which includes a Senator who effectively writes the agency's budget, has made it clear that funding the SLS rocket is his priority. So in this case, while NASA may not have necessarily wanted to give Boeing a cost-plus contract for SLS rockets for the next 15 years, it may have had little choice."

Keith's note: One small problem. The money for EUS (or an accelerated Artemis for that matter) is not there despite the forward leaning language that NASA , Boeing, and the Alabama delegation like to use. Just sayin' Indeed, if NASA had pushed the EUS earlier they could have avoided the whole Gateway thing. But NASA never does things logically.

- GAO Anticipates First SLS Launch Date In 2021, earlier post
- Today's Hearing on SLS, Orion, Artemis, earlier post
- NASA Admits That SLS Is A "Jobs Program". Wow. Who Knew?, earlier post
- GAO: Human Space Exploration: Persistent Delays and Cost Growth Reinforce Concerns over Management of Programs, earlier post
- More SLS postings

Chairman Serrano Statement at Hearing on NASA's Moon Landing Proposal

"Not even NASA's own leadership has enough confidence in the success and safety of advancing this timeline. NASA Acting Associate Administrator Bowersox, who is a former astronaut and here with us today, referred to the 2024 moon landing date as difficult to achieve in a House Science hearing last month, saying quote "I wouldn't bet my oldest child's birthday present or anything like that." Additionally, NASA's Manager for the Human Landing System, Lisa Watson-Morgan, was quoted in an article about the timing of the mission saying, quote: "This is a significant deviation for NASA and the government... all of this has to be done on the fast. It has to be done on the quick ... Typically, in the past, NASA is quite methodical ... which is good. We're going to have to have an abbreviated approach to getting to approval for industry standards for design and construction ... and how we're going to go off and implement this. So, this is a big paradigm shift, I would say, for the entire NASA community, too." Unquote. We cannot sacrifice quality just to be quick. We cannot sacrifice safety to be fast. And we cannot sacrifice other government programs just to please the President. Before asking for such a substantial additional investment, NASA needs to be prepared to state unequivocally which NASA missions will be delayed or even cancelled in the effort to come up with an additional $25 billion."

Budget leader says NASA's accelerated moon mission timeline unnecessary, Huston Chronicle

"And its for political reasons that the initiative could get stalled, said Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee and editor of NASA Watch, a website devoted to space news. "Here we are, 14 months from (an election) and everyone is doing the classic thing we see here in Washington: It's time to start either waiting people out until after the election or now is the time to strike and get something in place before change happens," Cowing said. That's likely one of the reasons Serrano is OK with a 2028 moon mission, Cowing said, especially since NASA programs backed by the current administration are typically gutted by the incoming president after the election."

Keith's note: So when does the whole "open source" thing begin with regard to NASA's moon stuff?

NASA Invites Media to Events Highlighting Spacesuits for Moon to Mars

"Media are invited to NASA Headquarters in Washington Tuesday, Oct. 15 to get an up-close look at the next generation spacesuits the first woman and next man to explore the Moon will wear as part of the agency's Artemis program. The public event will take place at 2 p.m. EDT and feature NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who will host a demonstration with spacesuit engineers. The spacesuit demonstration will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website."

Exploration Extravehicular Activity (xEVA) Production and Services

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Center is issuing this sources sought synopsis as a means of conducting market research to identify parties having an interest in and the resources to support the requirement for Exploration Extravehicular Activity (xEVA) Production and Services. The result of this market research will contribute to determining the method of procurement."

Exploration Extravehicular Activity (xEVA) Production and Services

"The purpose of this RFI is to inform industry of NASA's Exploration Space Suit requirements and to collect industry input on key parameters that will help develop future acquisition plans for procuring the production and evolution of space suits and supporting equipment such as EVA tools and vehicle interface hardware. This future procurement instrument will be referred to as the xEVA Production and Services Contract."

Exploration Extravehicular Activity (xEVA) Production and Services

Oops. Some things are sort of secret right now.

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Keith's note: I first published this two years ago. Yesterday both Jim Bridenstine and Elon Musk noted that they were not alive when humans walked on the Moon - so they do not have memories of that event. Alas, so much of how NASA has conveyed the importance of Artemis - and the way that the media describes it - seems to harken back to events that my fellow Baby Boomers and I resonate with. What is often neglected - and is therefore needed - as Bridenstine noted, is an effort to create new memories for a whole new generation for whom seeing people walking on the Moon is a novelty. Bridenstine and Musk also spoke in global terms with regard to the value and impact of seeing humans walk on another world- so I have added some global figures as well.

Keith's original 28 November 2017 note (update): There is a lot of talk these days about yet another pivot in America's civilian space policy. This time it is "back" to the Moon. Mars is not off the agenda - but it is not moving forward either. Personally I think we have unfinished business on the Moon and that creating a vibrant cis-lunar space infrastructure is the best way to enable humans to go to many places in the solar system - including Mars. Regardless of your stance on this issue, a common refrain about going back to the Moon - starting with President Obama is that "We've been there before".

Humans first reached the South Pole by an overland route in 1911/1912. While we visited the pole by plane in the intervening years, no one traversed Antarctica's surface again until 1958. 46 years between Antarctic polar traverses. Why did we go back to do something - again - in a similar way - to a place "we've been [to] before" after 46 years? Because there was still something of interest there - something we'd only had a fleeting exposure to - and we had developed new ways to traverse polar environments. James Cameron revisited the Challenger Deep in 2012 - after a human absence of 52 years. Why? See above. It is understandable that explorers seek to explore new places and not redo what has been done before. There is only so much funding and there are still so many places yet to be explored. But it is also not uncommon for explorers to revisit old, previously visited locations with new tools - and new mindsets.

Look at the stunning imagery Juno is sending back of Jupiter. Compare that to what we got from Galileo - and Voyager - and Pioneer. Why send yet another mission to the same destination unless, well, you have better tools - tools that enable the pursuit of ever greater exploration goals.

I was 15 when humans first walked on the Moon. The generations who have followed mine have never seen humans land and walk on the Moon. Indeed a lot of them seem to think it never happened. But American space policy is made by Baby Boomers (and older) population cohorts so we just operate on our own biases i.e. been there, done that.

Take a look at the chart below (Source: CIA based on UN data). More than half of the Americans alive today never saw humans walk on the Moon - as it happened - including Administrator of NASA, the head of SpaceX, and the entire 2013 and 2017 NASA astronaut classes. If you look at the global chart (Source: CIA based on UN data) you will see that perhaps 2/3 of humanity was not alive. If/when we go back to the Moon in the next 5-10 years the number of people with no personal memory of humans walking on another world will increase at a rate of 15,000 an hour. For them these future Moon landings will be THEIR FIRST MOON LANDINGS. That's billions of people waiting to see what I saw in 1969. Has anyone stopped to think of what the impact of this will be? We need to be thinking of this not in terms of Baby Boomer nostalgia but rather as a new adventure for billions.

Just sayin'

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Senate Appropriators Propose $22.75 Billion for NASA in FY2020, Some Extra for Artemis, Space Policy Online

"The Senate Appropriations Committee began marking up its version of the FY2020 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill that funds NASA today. The eagerly anticipated action is seen as a bellwether of Senate support for NASA's Artemis program to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024. The results appear mixed, with some but not all of the extra $1.6 billion NASA requested in May. It is an improvement compared to the House version, however, which did not include any of the $1.6 billion. Overall the agency did slightly better in the Senate committee than in the House, with a top-line of $22.75 billion compared to $22.32 billion."

NASA Awards Lockheed Martin Contract for Six Orion Spacecraft, Lockheed Martin

"NASA and Lockheed Martin have finalized a contract for the production and operations of six Orion spacecraft missions and the ability to order up to 12 in total. Orion is NASA's deep space exploration spaceship that will carry astronauts from Earth to the Moon and bring them safely home. Lockheed Martin has been the prime contractor during the development phase of the Orion program."

NASA Commits to Long-term Artemis Missions with Orion Production Contract, NASA

"This is a great day for the men and women at Johnson Space Center. They are crucial to our national space program, and have an undeniable legacy and record of success in advancing America's leadership in the human exploration of space," said Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. "I am pleased that Administrator Bridenstine has heeded my calls and is taking significant steps to ensure that Johnson continues to grow with the exciting future of manned exploration that lies ahead. More needs to be done, and I look forward to production ramping up in the weeks and months to come and to more opportunities with NASA."

"As the only vehicle capable of deep space exploration, the Orion spacecraft is critical to America's continued leadership," said Rep. Brian Babin of Texas. "Today's announcement signals that we are moving closer towards operation and production. While I look forward to learning more of the details, it's encouraging to see that this program is moving along as it should be. I am proud of the Orion program team and contractor partners at Johnson Space Center as they move towards getting the vehicle 'flight ready.' Without the brilliant minds and extraordinary leadership of the hard-working men and women at Johnson, our country would not be the preeminent spacefaring nation in the world."

"The men and women at Johnson Space Center represent the best and brightest scientific minds, and I'm confident with additional Orion spacecraft they will push the limits of exploration to the Moon and beyond," said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. "I commend the Trump Administration for recognizing the importance and tradition of Houston as the center of human spaceflight and exploring the next frontier."

Keith's note: Does NASA even have a confirmed budget to build the 6 SLS rockets to actually launch these 6 Orions to Gateway? Meanwhile, It certainly looks like NASA Legislative Affairs made up for dropping the ball during the Human Lunar Lander announcement in Huntsville by getting happy quotes from the major Texas politicians.

- Texas Responds To NASA Lunar Lander Management In Alabama, earlier post
- Friday's NASA Lunar Lander Event Stirs Up Some Dust (Update), earlier post

Some NASA contractors appear to be trying to kill the Lunar Gateway, Ars Technica

"These members, including Oklahoma Democratic representative and committee chair Kendra Horn, as well as Alabama Republican representative Mo Brooks, were particularly skeptical of private rockets in their comments and questions during the hearing. They also pressed NASA on why the agency is not moving more quickly with development of a powerful second stage upgrade for the agency's Space Launch System rocket. This "Exploration Upper Stage" would increase the amount of mass the rocket could send to the Moon from 26 tons to 37 tons. Wednesday's hearing was notable because it appears to mark an escalation in an intense lobbying battle going on behind the scenes by some contractors--most likely led by Boeing--to kill NASA's proposed Lunar Gateway and instead accelerate funding for the Exploration Upper Stage ...

... What was surprising is that Horn and others at the hearing also appeared to be swayed by Cooke's view that bypassing commercial rockets and the Gateway would lead to a simpler and faster lunar mission. "I believe there is value in developing commercial capabilities," she said toward the end of the hearing. However, she added, "I am concerned that the decisions are not being driven by what is most efficient or effective and what is most cost efficient."

Keith's note: Yesterday Doug Cooke was pushing for the Exploration Upper Stage - something Boeing has been trying to get NASA to fund for years. Cooke has worked for Boeing for years. I thought it was a little odd that no one brought up that fact in the hearing - especially when you can see from his Truth in Testimony Disclosure Form that he as been paid $466,250 between 2017 and today. The bio at the end of his prepared testimony makes zero mention of "Boeing" but pushes the EUS. Just sayin'

This not so subtle campaign to eliminate Gateway has been underway for months.

'

Hearing: Developing Core Capabilities for Deep Space Exploration: An Update on NASA's SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems

Watch live

Keith's note: Doug Cooke was pushing for the Exploration Upper Stage - something Boeing has been trying to get NASA to fund for years. Cooke has worked for Boeing for years. I thought it was a little odd that no one brought up that fact in the hearing - especially when you can see from his Truth in Testimony Disclosure Form that he as been paid $466,250 between 2017 and today. The bio at the end of his prepared testimony makes zero mention of "Boeing" but pushes the EUS. Just sayin'

NASA: Actions Needed to Improve the Management of Human Spaceflight Programs

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) three related human spaceflight programs are in the integration and test phase of development, a phase of the acquisition process that often reveals unforeseen challenges leading to cost growth and schedule delays. Since GAO last reported on the status of these programs in June 2019, each program has made progress. For example, the Orion program conducted a key test to demonstrate the ability to abort a mission should a life-threatening failure occur during launch. As GAO found in June 2019, however, the programs continue to face significant schedule delays. In November 2018, within one year of announcing an up to 19-month delay for the three programs--the Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle, the Orion crew spacecraft, and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS)--NASA senior leaders acknowledged the revised launch date of June 2020 is unlikely. In addition, any issues uncovered during integration and testing may push the date as late as June 2021. Moreover, GAO found that NASA's calculations of cost growth for the SLS program is understated by more than 750 million dollars."

Chairwoman Horn's Opening Statement for Status of NASA's Exploration Systems Development Programs Hearing

"I ask these questions because we need to know how the near-term status of SLS and Orion affects our overall exploration goals. The House will vote soon on a Continuing Resolution for FY 2020--a relatively "clean" CR with no additional funding for the Moon program. What will this mean for the 2024 date? In the absence of detailed information, a plan, and an estimated budget profile for the Moon program, I can't get to a clear answer."

Chairwoman Johnson's Opening Statement for Status of NASA's Exploration Systems Development Programs Hearing

"Moreover, it has now been more than two months since the head of the NASA Human Exploration and Operations Directorate was removed from his position, with no permanent replacement yet identified--even though that position is critical to the success of NASA's Exploration and ISS programs. And we have been told not to expect a cost estimate or budget plan for the President's Moon program before next year."

Rep. Frank Lucas' Statement at Space Subcommittee Hearing on NASA's SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems Programs

"Year after year, the Trump Administration has proposed increased funding for NASA Exploration Systems, only to have Congress appropriate even more than the Administration requested. This year the Administration took the extraordinary step of amending their budget by requesting an additional $1.6 billion to accelerate our return to the Moon by 2024. This will serve as a down payment on the systems necessary to enable this goal. The primary elements are already well under development."

Opening Statement of Rep. Brian Babin at Space Subcommittee Hearing on NASA's SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems Programs

"While I am excited by the promise of how strategic assets like SLS and Orion will enable America's return to the Moon, this Committee has a responsibility to conduct oversight to ensure these programs are successful. All three exploration system elements - SLS, Orion, and Ground Systems -- have experienced many delays and cost overruns over the years. Some of the setbacks were caused by Administrations that tried to stifle program budgets and even cancel the programs."

NASA Marshall to Host Small Business Alliance Meeting Sept. 19 at U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville

"Officials from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center will share the latest contract opportunities with representatives of large and small businesses, NASA prime contractors and subcontractors at a Marshall Small Business Alliance meeting Sept. 19 at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, part of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. Registration will begin at 7 a.m., followed by the event from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m."

Keith's note: Of course none of this will be streamed live or offered as a dial-in for the media. Its easy to do. A laptop is all that is needed - and the willingness on NASA's part to do so. MSFC is where SLS is built. Its also the place where the human lunar lander will be managed. Lots opportunities - nationally - for small businesses to participate. Last week at JSC there was an event with the states comptroller about the economic impact of NASA in Texas. NASA made no effort for media or small businesses inable to attend or located in other states to listen in to the event. If you go to 2019 Deep Space Exploration Systems Supplier Locations and click on Alabama 106 suppliers are located, But that's just Alabama. If you were to look at SLS program suppliers then there's hundreds of suppliers across the U.S. contributing to SLS and/or Orion.

While the NASA MSFC home page just added a post (for an event starting in 36 hours) There is no mention of this event on the nasa.gov calendar, the NASA exploration systems page. Once again, as was the case with the JSC event, you would think that NASA would want the local, state, and national level economic impact of the SLS/Orion and Artemis programs to be as widely known as possible. NASA is going to need all of the support it can muster when it comes time to push for funding in Congress. Instead, all that NASA does is to post things at the last minute and make these events and discussions as difficult as possible to hear.

- JSC Is Not Very Excited About NASA's Economic Impact on Texas (Update), earlier post
- JSC Goes Out Of Its Way To Hide Good News (Update), earlier post

Cruz's test: how to keep Houston central to space flight [Editorial]

"But the flesh-and-blood part of the techno-wizardry of the Space program has always run first through Houston. Not Huntsville, Cape Canaveral nor any of many NASA facilities around the country. Isn't the Texas congressional delegation disproportionately influential on this issue? It sure ought to be. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas chairs the Senate subcommittee on space. Rep. Brian Babin of Woodville is the ranking Republican on the House space subcommittee. Yet, a key part of one of the most ambitious plans in NASA history quietly walks out of Houston and ends up nearly 800 miles away. That dog don't hunt. Even before the announcement was made officially, Cruz, Babin and Texas' senior Sen. John Cornyn fired off a letter Aug. 15 demanding the pending decision be reconsidered."

NASA Invites Media to Economic Impact News Conference with Texas Comptroller's Office

"NASA will host officials of the Texas Comptroller's Office and news media on Thursday, Sept. 12 as the Lone Star state announces a special economic impact report for the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The report, "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): A Texas Institution with a Large Economic Impact," highlights employment numbers, average wages, gross domestic product, and grants that NASA introduces to the state. The report also details the center and its workforce's influences on education, tourism and future growth, particularly in the Gulf Coast region. NASA's impact on Texas, and Johnson's position as the world leader in human spaceflight, remain strong as the agency moves toward human exploration of deep space with the Artemis program and a landing on the Moon by 2024, initiatives that include many key roles at Johnson. The news conference will begin at 11:15 a.m. CDT Sept. 12. Media wishing to participate in person must request credentials from the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11. Dial-in participation will not be available."

Keith's note: This is silly. After the decision to put the Human Lander responsibility in Huntsville, NASA wants everyone to know how much of an impact NASA spending has in Texas. But unless you can make it to a room at JSC next Thursday you won't be able to hear what is said. Johnson PAO apparently does not know how - or does not care to provide a simple dial-in for media - or an audio or video feed for people elsewhere to listen/watch. One would think that NASA would understand that this sort of news, while pertaining to Texas, has applicability to the region and can also raise awareness in other states with regard to NASA's economic footprint. Given the sheer number of vendors for Artemis and other NASA programs, the entire country benefits.

Oh yes the press release says "View the upcoming economic impact report and get more information on the Texas Comptroller's office at: https://www.comptroller.texas.gov/". There is no obvious mention of the report on that website. But if you search for "NASA" you get a link to this page where you see lots of pretty NASA pictures - but no link to the report. There is no mention of this event at the JSC home page. NASA HQ makes no mention of this press release on their press release page or the Artemis page. Nor is there any mention on the nasa.gov home page or its calendar of events.

Look at this Texas portion (larger image) of the list of companies that are suppliers to SLS/Orion/Artemis: "2019 Deep Space Exploration Systems Supplier Locations". These 182 companies are located all over Texas. I'll be willing to bet that nearly all of these companies have no idea that there is a NASA website that lists all of the small business that work on this project. The Texas Comptroller seems not to know about it. JSC does not mention it either. Why go through the time and expense of collecting this information if no one is told that it exists?

If you make it hard for people to find - or hear - your good news they may not find it. NASA has yet to figure out how to tell people about its good news. Meanwhile Jim Bridenstine has managed to learn how to livestream events from his cellphone. Baffling.

I'm a Retired Female Astronaut and I Can't Understand the Obsession With 'Gender Diverse' Space Crews, opinion by Marsha Ivins, Time

"And then there was Saralyn Mark, an M.D. and specialist in gender-based medicine, who spoke about gender bias. Her main point: NASA needs to -- no kidding -- realize there are gender differences because sending "gender diverse" crews to Mars is going to be difficult. At least I think that was her point. It was frankly hard to listen to because enough already! ...

... After Dr. Mark's testimony, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine once again mentioned how inspired his 11-year old daughter would be to see women taking leadership positions in space exploration. Well, Mr. Bridenstine, your agency has had women in leadership roles on and off the planet far longer than you have held your current position. And there have been women astronauts living, working and leading on spacecraft decades longer than your daughter has been alive. Why is she not inspired by that?"

Keith's note: I am not certain Marsha Ivins was listening to the same presentation I heard (see C-SPAN transcript below). For starters Dr. Mark and the other speakers had 3 minutes to make their points. Dr. Mark's commentary about differences in physiological responses to space travel based on gender is very real. Indeed, most of what she discussed had to do with physiology and human factors and how issues still remain to be addressed when planning long-term space missions. But Mark also spoke to the broader issue of diversity and the importance of making sure that when humans go into space that all of us are going.

Alas, Marsha Ivins seems to think that having women on space mission crews and in some leadership positions at NASA means that the whole diversity and gender equality thing is solved. It is not. Even the most cursory review of recent news stories will provide ample evidence of ongoing sexual harassment, pay disparities, imbalances in educational opportunities, and lingering paternalistic management practices within NASA, the aerospace industry, and the various scientific and academic institutions that make up the lager community that explorers space. But Marsha thinks that this was "hard to listen to because enough already!" Really Marsha?

Astronauts are special class of employees at NASA and often occupy a slightly strange position at the agency - one that is often isolated from reality. I know enough astronauts well enough to have seen this with my own eyes. In Ivins' case she saw diversity in space crews and says OK well we have diversity. Check that box. Next task. What about the rest of NASA, Marsha? In reality this most certainly is not the case across the agency and the aerospace industry and the scientific community as a whole.

Jim Bridenstine literally jumped out of the gate on his first day at NASA pledging to support diversity and equality at NASA. Bridenstine goes out of his way almost daily to talk about diversity and his personal commitment to enhancing equality. What does Marsha Ivins do? She crosses the line and dares to question the sincerity with which a father speaks of his own daughter's inspiration and future opportunities.

People look up to astronauts as role models. As such what does it say to people searching for guidance from an astronaut role model to see op eds with the words "I Can't Understand the Obsession With 'Gender Diverse' Space Crews" in the title? Such tone deaf and ill-informed comments do a disservice to everyone who strives to have a role in the exploration of space.

It's time for people like Marsha Ivins to descend from the former astronaut ivory towers and engage with the real world where pushing for more diversity and inclusion is never a bad thing to do. It will always be a work in progress. Contrary to what Ivins saw while wearing her flight suit there are 300 million people out there who live totally different lives - and they pay for this whole party in space. To them diversity and equality in opportunity matter. NASA succeeds best when all people can see themselves reflected in what NASA does.

Note: back in 2007 Marsha Ivins wanted to become a big time TV player in Hollywood. Have a look at her proposed project. At one point she says "I also understand that they should have access to a lot of stuff but do not get free reign to dig around in places we don't want them digging, and again since I have total control over the story line since there are only 2 of us writing it, we can guide the story." Hmmm ... "places we don't want them digging ..."

National Space Council Transcript of comments by Dr. Saralyn Mark 20 August 2019. Source: C-SPAN

Click to read

Community Letter regarding NASA's Lunar Discovery and Exploration Program

"As you are aware, the Lunar Discovery and Exploration Program (LDEP) is the continuation of a credible plan to re-engage in lunar surface exploration that has evolved and matured in the past few years, and shown significant progress in the last year. After years of planning next steps toward the Moon, we believe this program is designed for both expediency and cost-effectiveness. That is why we urge its full funding in FY2020, thereby ensuring the continued operation of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, and restoring U.S. access to the surface of Earth's nearest neighbor for the first time in almost five decades.

We believe that the LEDP is critical to a vibrant space economy that will bring new and exciting employment opportunities to the next generation of scientists and engineers, as well extend beyond to all sectors of society. The LDEP will give the United States the opportunity to, at long last, systematically prospect for lunar resources, gather comprehensive new samples from many new locations, explore lunar lava tubes, investigate magnetic anomalies, and address a long list of unanswered geophysical questions whose answers have deep implications for advancing our knowledge of the formation of the Solar System and key planetary processes."

Statement by Rep. Brian Babin Regarding NASA's Decision To Award Lunar Lander Program Management to Marshall Space Flight Center

"I am disappointed by the decision from NASA to not place the lunar lander program management at the Johnson Space Center (JSC)," said Babin. "Marshall Space Flight Center does tremendous work for our nation's space program, but the knowledge base and skill set for this task unquestionably resides at JSC where the Apollo lunar lander program was successfully managed."

Statement by Sen. Ted Cruz Regarding NASA's Decision To Award Lunar Lander Program Management to Marshall Space Flight Center

"As NASA moves forward with their plans I will use every tool at my disposal to ensure the Johnson Space Center remains the crown jewel in human space exploration."

Cruz, Cornyn, Babin Call On NASA to Award Lunar Lander Program to Johnson Space Center

"In response to a news report that NASA will designate the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to lead the development of the human-classed lunar lander for the Artemis program over the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas - which has served as NASA's lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century - U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) today urged NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to reconsider his decision and refrain from an official announcement until an official briefing is held."

NASA Marshall to Lead Artemis Program's Human Lunar Lander Development

"NASA recently issued a draft solicitation and requested comments from American companies interested in providing an integrated human landing system - a precursor to the final solicitation targeted for release in the coming months. The agency's human lunar exploration plans are based on a two-phase approach: the first is focused on speed - landing on the Moon within five years, while the second will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028. The agency will use what we learn on the Moon to prepare for the next giant leap - sending astronauts to Mars."

NASA Seeks Input from U.S. Industry on Artemis Lander Development, NASA

"The agency's internal studies point toward a three-stage human landing system, but NASA is also interested in alternative approaches that can accomplish the same long-term goals of global lunar access and a reusable landing system. The three-stage concept includes a transfer element for the journey from the lunar Gateway to low-lunar orbit, a descent element to carry the crew to the surface, and an ascent element to return them to the Gateway. From there, they would board Orion for the 250,000-mile trip back to Earth."

Keith's Update: Great. But if NASA was really interested in alternate approaches then why has it already started to award Gateway contracts based on their own architecture? Why throw money at things that might be changed? Unless the interest in changing things is not real. The most efficient thing for NASA to do would be to set basic requirements, then ask for the ideas - first, evaluate them, pick the best ones, and move ahead, But no. NASA is working backward asking people to fix things it has already started to build. Oh and NASA now has to do everything by 2024 instead of 2028. You'd think that with such an accelerated program that there'd be more of an emphasis on clarity of purpose and efficiency in approach. But this is NASA = Never A Simple Answer.

NASA Administrator to Discuss Human Lander Update for Artemis Program

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, joined by U.S. Representatives Mo Brooks, Robert Aderholt, Scott DesJarlais and Brian Babin, will discuss updates on the agency's plans for landing humans on the Moon by 2024 through the Artemis program at 3:10 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 16. The remarks will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website."

Alabama space center will manage NASA's lunar lander program, Ars Technica

"As part of the carefully negotiated agreement, Marshall will have responsibility for the overall program as well as two elements of what is planned to be a three-stage lander. The center in northern Alabama will oversee commercial development of the Transfer Element--planned to ferry the lander from the Lunar Gateway down to low-lunar orbit--as well as the Descent Element that will fly down to the surface. ... Meanwhile, the Houston, Texas-based Johnson Space Center will oversee development of the Ascent Element. "

Letter To NASA Administrator Bridenstine From Texas Congressional Delegation Regarding Artemis Lunar Lander

"We are writing to you today in light of a recent report that this Friday, August 16,2019, you plan to announce that the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama will manage the development of the lunar lander for the Artemis program and oversee the commercial development of two of the three elements, the Transfer Element and Descent Element, of that lander. According to that same report the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas, will oversee the commercial development of only one of three elements, the Ascent Element. This is very troubling if accurate. ... we request that you reconsider this decision, and hold off on any formal announcements until we receive a briefing on this matter that includes the timeline, projected cost, and rational for this decision."

Cruz, Cornyn, Babin Call On NASA to Award Lunar Lander Program to Johnson Space Center

"In response to a news report that NASA will designate the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to lead the development of the human-classed lunar lander for the Artemis program over the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas - which has served as NASA's lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century - U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) today urged NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to reconsider his decision and refrain from an official announcement until an official briefing is held."

Keith's note: Reader's guide

1. NASA announced a lunar lander update event at MSFC with members of Congress. 2. Ars Technica reported details of what will be in that announcement i.e. shared development between JSC and MSFC
3. NASA Administrator disputed accuracy of Ars Technica Story.
4. Members of Congress saw Ars Technica story and are concerned that Texas may not get the lunar lander program - as they told NASA they wanted.

Keith's Update: Rep. Babin has pulled out of the event.

Statement by Rep. Brian Babin Regarding NASA's Decision To Award Lunar Lander Program Management to Marshall Space Flight Center

"I am disappointed by the decision from NASA to not place the lunar lander program management at the Johnson Space Center (JSC)," said Babin. "Marshall Space Flight Center does tremendous work for our nation's space program, but the knowledge base and skill set for this task unquestionably resides at JSC where the Apollo lunar lander program was successfully managed."

NASA Administrator to Discuss Human Lander Update for Artemis Program, NASA

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, joined by U.S. Representatives Mo Brooks, Robert Aderholt, Scott DesJarlais and Brian Babin, will discuss updates on the agency's plans for landing humans on the Moon by 2024 through the Artemis program at 3:10 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 16. The remarks will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website."

Alabama space center will manage NASA's lunar lander program, Ars Technica

"As part of the carefully negotiated agreement, Marshall will have responsibility for the overall program as well as two elements of what is planned to be a three-stage lander. The center in northern Alabama will oversee commercial development of the Transfer Element--planned to ferry the lander from the Lunar Gateway down to low-lunar orbit--as well as the Descent Element that will fly down to the surface. ... Meanwhile, the Houston, Texas-based Johnson Space Center will oversee development of the Ascent Element. "

Keith's note: Watch as the MSFC Transfer and Descent elements get too heavy and then squeeze the JSC Ascent element. We've seen this movie before.

With Gerstenmaier gone, decision to fly NASA astronauts may be more contentious, Ars Technica

"SpaceX has already flown an uncrewed demonstration mission of its Dragon spacecraft. Boeing is likely to follow suit this fall with its own Starliner capsule, possibly as early as September. Then each company will have a critical test of its spacecraft's abort system, and then a chance to work through any final technical issues. But once that's done, one or both of the vehicles could be ready to launch astronauts from Florida by early 2020. "Here's where losing Gerstenmaier is going to hurt," said Wayne Hale, former space shuttle program manager and an adviser to NASA. "Bill was recognized by everybody as being technically well grounded and very astute. He was known to listen carefully, and to make his judgments based on good technical reasons."

Keith's note: The new management team selected to run HEOMD is going to have to hit the ground running. Key decisions about SLS will need to be made within weeks of their arrival in their new positions. To be certain the rest of the program is already in place preparing for these events. However, NASA has been directed to suddenly compress a program intended to do something in 2028 into a plan that is going to do that same thing in 2024. Planning for all of this has to go exactly right and hinges upon continued and coordinated political support (funding). And whether that political support will even be there all depends on the run up to - and the outcome of - one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history. This is going to be rather sporty.

NASA Announces Call for Next Phase of Commercial Lunar Payload Services

"NASA has announced the latest opportunity for industry to participate in its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) efforts to deliver science and technology payloads to and near the Moon. The newest announcement calls for companies to push the boundaries of current technology to support the next generation of lunar landers that can land heavier payloads on the surface of the Moon, including the South Pole, as part of the agency's Artemis program, which will send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, setting the stage for future human exploration of Mars."

NASA Announces US Industry Partnerships to Advance Moon, Mars Technology

"As NASA prepares to land humans on the Moon by 2024 with the Artemis program, commercial companies are developing new technologies, working toward space ventures of their own, and looking to NASA for assistance. NASA has selected 10 U.S. companies for 19 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies and help maintain American leadership in space."

Keith's 29 July note:
This was tweeted by Thomas Zurbuchen @Dr_ThomasZ earlier today "NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) missions will be challenging for various reasons & they may not always succeed. We're willing to accept some risk in order to get back to the Moon quickly with commercial partners, and do exciting science and tech development. While the first three companies selected to carry payloads to the Moon were announced in May, one of them, Orbit Beyond, Inc., has informed NASA that they will not be able to timely complete the awarded task order. As a result, NASA made a decision to comply with Orbit Beyond Inc's request and terminated the task order on terms agreeable to both parties. Orbit Beyond, Inc. remains a CLPS contract awardee and may be eligible to compete for future opportunities."

According to sources Team Indus was not willing to give OrbitBeyond the license needed to build this lander in the U.S. and the whole thing reached a halt this week with NASA realizing it was just not going to work. This is unfortunate for OrbitBeyond and the group of space companies it had assembled for this project. Hopefully they'll be able to move ahead with other projects.

Bengaluru firm to build moon lander for Nasa 2020 mission, Times of India

"Confirming the development, Team Indus engineer Ananth Ramesh told TOI: "Yes, we will be building the lander. It is most likely to be built in India too." Team Indus CEO Rahul Narayan was in the US to sign the contract documents on Thursday."

America's first private moon lander will be engineered in India, Quartz

"Orbit Beyond, which will assemble the lander and spacecraft in Florida, also includes US firms Honeybee Robotics, Advanced Space, Ceres Robotics, and Apollo Fusion to handle tasks including the installation of scientific payloads, maneuvering from the earth to the moon, and operations on the lunar surface."

Keith's 15 June note: If you read articles about OrbitBeyond in the Indian press they all say that the lander will likely be built in India. If you read stories published in the U.S. they say it will be assembled here. This issue apparently came up in last week's space science hearings. OrbitBeyond is a privately held company that was only recently established and looks to be designed as more of a shell company to coordinate the activities of its various team members. The bulk of the hardware is going to be of Indian design. The lingering question is: where will it actually be built?

Keith's 29 July note: OrbitBeyond has not replied to multiple requests on this issue sent more than a month ago. Various sources point to mounting management problems within OrbitBeyond. In a nutshell NASA picked Team Indus, an Indian company that was trying to win he Google Lunar X Prize to build this mission and they were calling all the shots.

NASA Gateway Program Justification For Other Than Full and Open Competition For The Minimal Habitation Module

"NASA's decision, based on review of each NextSTEP-2 contractor's capabilities, to sole source the procurement of the MHM flight unit for the cislunar Gateway to Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (NGIS) as a follow-on to the originally competitively awarded NextSTEP-2 BAA Appendix A, Habitat Systems studies, Contract NNH15CN76C (See below). ... In order to support the mandate to enable a human landing capability in 2024, the MHM must be launched in late 2023 to be delivered to Gateway no later than early 2024. The schedule constraints established by a December 2023 launch dictate that a module be on dock at Kennedy Space Center in mid-2023 for launch processing and integration. Per NASA's schedule analysis, this typical timeline for module production must already be compressed in order to achieve the 2024 human lunar landing deadline. Given that the NextSTEP-2 contractors advanced designs to a near System Design Review (SDR) fidelity, NASA determined that it must utilize the existing concepts from the NextSTEP-2 Appendix A and use the development done to date to minimize the additional design work necessary to produce a module in time."

Keith's note: NASA has been directed by Vice President Pence to truncate NASA's original plans to land people on the Moon in 2028 to a new date of 2024. That means NASA is going to have to make a number of prompt decisions on some basic aspects of how it accomplishes this 2024 goal. This NASA document makes mention of the fact that NASA is having to compress its procedures in order to meet the deadline set by Vice President Pence. NASA has decided that the only viable solution for a habitation module for the Gateway is to utilize a modified version of Northrop Grumman's Cygnus cargo spacecraft. This spacecraft (originally developed by Orbital Sciences which was bought by Northrop Grumman) has performed flawlessly each time it has flown, so it is a known, proven design. While it would not be surprising that other companies will protest this sole source decision by NASA, it is hard to argue that other companies could have been able to provide hardware on the dock at KSC when NASA needs it to be there.

The only thing that is missing from this document is the cost of this module which is redacted on page 5 of the original notice posted by NASA. Given the mysterious and ever-changing estimates of how much it will take NASA to meet the 2024 goal it is hard to imagine that this number will remain a secret. Indeed, just last week NASA Administrator Bridenstine openly admitted in congressional testimony that NASA has a chronic problem when it comes to estimating costs and then delivering on them.

Meeting the 2024 lunar landing date is going to be sporty - at a minimum. To his credit Jim Bridenstine has hit the ground running. Gateway has been downsized to a basic initial configuration. Maxar has the propulsion portion of the Gateway and Northrop Grumman now has the initial habitation portion. Orion and its service module exists and SLS is being fabricated albeit behind schedule. Moreover commercial launchers from SpaceX and ULA are ready for procurement to launch components. All that seems to be missing now is a lunar lander. NASA has a long way to go. Many people think that the landing could be done in a simpler fashion. But again, given the lead time Bridenstine has been given he has certainly risen to the challenge. It will be interesting to see who is picked to run HEOMD given that Bridenstine has said that some important decisions are on hold pending those appointments.

'Near-final' budget deal could prevent government shutdown, stabilize military funding, Defense News

"The retreat from the possibility of a one-year continuing resolution, which lawmakers and the administration had openly discussed, is a win for the Pentagon. While short-term stopgap CRs are nothing new, CRs do lock in spending at the previous year's level and bar new programs from starting as well as production increases."

Remarks by Vice President Pence Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Kennedy Space Center, FL

"And while we've made great strides in advancing the President's bold vision for space -- unlike in years past, we will have the budgets to match it. And that's why I'm especially grateful today to be joined by some of the greatest champions of American leadership in space in the Congress of the United States: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Congressman Robert Aderholt, Congressman Brian Babin, Congressman Bill Posey, and other distinguished members of Congress. Would you please rise and allow us to express our appreciation for your strong support of renewed American leadership? (Applause.)"

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/pence20jul.jpg

Remarks by Vice President Pence Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Kennedy Space Center, FL

"Apollo 11 is the only event in the 20th century that stands a chance of being widely remembered in the 30th century. A thousand years from now, July 20, 1969 will likely be a date that will live in the minds and imaginations of men and women, as long as there are men and women to remember -- across this world, across this solar system, and beyond."

Keith's note: More pictures on @NASAWatch

Keith's note: Small wonder why NASA people do not exactly look forward to these Oval Office things. No one knows what is going to happen until it happens.

Earth Blue, Rocket Red and Lunar Silver: A New Identity for Artemis Program to the Moon, NASA

"With this in mind, NASA is unveiling the new Artemis program identity, a bold look that embodies the determination of the men and women who will carry our missions forward. They will explore regions of the Moon never visited before, unlock mysteries of the Universe and test the technology that will extend the bounds of humanity farther into the Solar System."

Marc's note: Hey NASA Watch readers, what do you think of this new "identity"?

NASA Artemis program logo animated.
https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/harris.jpg

American kids want to be famous on YouTube, and kids in China want to go to space: survey, Business Insider

"Neil Armstrong became a role model in the eyes of kids everywhere 50 years ago when he became the first person to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969. Kids in a recent survey, however, were much more likely to aspire to be the next YouTube star rather than the next person in space. The survey, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Lego, found that children in the US and the United Kingdom were three times as likely to want to be YouTubers or vloggers as astronauts when they grow up. The survey asked 3,000 kids ages 8 to 12 to choose from five professions to answer which they wanted to be when they grew up: astronaut, musician, professional athlete, teacher, or vlogger/YouTuber. Though the top choice among kids in the US and the UK was vlogger/YouTuber, 56% of kids in China said they wanted to be an astronaut."

LEGO Group Kicks Off Global Program To Inspire The Next Generation Of Space Explorers As NASA Celebrates 50 Years Of Moon Landing, LEGO

"Nearly all children aged eight to 12 from China (97%), US (88%) and UK (87%) envision a human going to Mars in the future. In China, about a quarter (24%) of kids who think humans will go to Mars say it will happen either this year or next. Three-quarters of kids believe that humans will live in outer space or on a different planet, though kids from China are more likely to think so (96%) than are kids from the US (66%) and UK (62%). Similarly, when asked if they personally would like to go to outer space or a different planet, kids from China are more likely to say 'yes' (95%) than are kids from the US (68%) or UK (63%). The survey also revealed that today's children are three times more likely to aspire to be a YouTuber (29%) than an Astronaut (11%). When asked 'which ... careers are part of space exploration?' Astronaut was the most chosen answer (90%), followed by Engineer (58%) and Computer Programmer (52%). Only seven percent of children see a role for a Farmer/Gardener in the space program, an indication that kids may not realize all of the different jobs required to support space travel."

Keith's note: This week we're all being bathed in a 24/7 wave of Apollo nostalgia. NASA's proposed Artemis program is benefiting from the afterglow. But what is going to happen next week when all of the Apollo hoopla is over? In Chinese students will be pursuing their dream of becoming an astronaut while U.S. kids will be webcasting from their bedrooms.

Keith's update: I mentioned this poll's results tonight on CGTN America:

Statement by NASA Administrator Bridenstine: Hearing: Moon to Mars: NASA's Plans for Deep Space Exploration

"This week, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo-11 mission to the Moon. At this point in 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins had been in flight for just over a day, with the historic lunar landing ahead of them. Now, NASA is working to build a sustainable, open architecture that returns humanity to our nearest neighbor. We are building for the long term, going to the Moon to stay, and moving beyond to Mars. We are designing an open, durable, reusable architecture that will support exploration for decades to come. Sustainability requires reusable systems and partnerships from across the commercial sector and around the world. Robotic scientific missions delivered by commercial landers will be the first Artemis elements to land on the Moon."

Live webcast starts at 10:30 am EDT

Apollo Was NASA's Biggest Win - But Its Legacy is Holding The Agency Back. The Verge

"Apollo had a purpose. It was a major relay in the Space Race, and it showcased the incredible feats of engineering people can achieve when they bend their wills toward a common, monumental goal. It let people dream, and inspired innovation. But if NASA can't find a new purpose that motivates in the same way as the Cold War did, it's possible that the agency may remain trapped in its current cycle of development for human exploration for some time. The agency is trying to break out of this mold, but the politics of NASA and the space industrial complex that have been developing rocket hardware for decades make it difficult to evolve. And the agency may have the Apollo program to thank."

The Fraught Effort to Return to the Moon, The Atlantic

"The Trump administration faces a public skeptical of both destinations. According to a recent poll, 78 percent of respondents have a favorable view of NASA, and a majority say the government is spending too little when they're told that the agency's annual funding accounts for half a percent of the national budget. But just 42 percent think NASA should go to the moon in 2024, another recent poll found. A similar proportion of people think neither Mars nor the moon should be a priority. Even the two living Apollo 11 astronauts, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, think the United States should head to Mars instead of the moon."

Forward To The Moon

Forward To The Moon, Jim Bridenstine, Explorers Journal (Explorers Club)

"I am the first NASA administrator to have never seen humans walk on another world. I intend to be the only administrator with that distinction. Right now there are more people alive than not who share my experience. While most of Earth's inhabitants were born after the end of the Apollo missions, roughly a quarter of all of the people alive today have always known a world where it is perfectly normal for people to live in space. In winter 1911-1912, two overland parties became the first humans to reach the South Pole within weeks of each other. While we visited the South Pole in airplanes in subsequent years, no one thought to travel overland again for nearly half a century. In many important ways that is where we are today with regard to the Moon. We fly over it with satellites while we stay home. It has been a half-century. It is time to go back."

NASAWatch on CGTN

Transcript: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on "Face the Nation," July 14, 2019, CBS

CBS: "So the first steps [on the Moon] in 2024 will be by a woman?"
Bridenstine: "That's the goal."

Women are less supportive of space exploration, but putting a woman on the Moon might change that, The Conversation

"From my perspective as a space policy analyst, this is an important message for NASA to send. Women have been historically excluded from the space program, especially early on. While women have made inroads both as astronauts and more generally within the NASA ranks since, there remains a significant gender gap in support for space exploration. And for Artemis to succeed in getting the first woman to the Moon by 2024, a lot of political and public support will be required."

Larger image

Transcript: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on "Face the Nation," July 14, 2019, CBS

Bridenstine: "We also want to keep our eye on what is President Trump's goal - what is his vision? He wants to put an American flag - on Mars. So we go to the Moon to learn how to live on another world."

CBS: "So the first steps [on the Moon] in 2024 will be by a woman?"
Bridenstine: "That's the goal."

Space Exploration: Attitudes toward the U.S. Space Program, AP

"Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. moon landing, 60% say the space program has provided enough benefit to the country to justify its cost, while 38% do not consider the country's expenditures on the space program warranted. Most Americans say it is important for the space program to monitor objects including asteroids, comets, and other objects that could impact the Earth, as well as scientifically research the universe, our solar system, and the Earth. On the other hand, the establishment of permanent human settlements on other planets or developing an American military presence in space are not considered priorities." ... "There is not overwhelming enthusiasm for returning to the moon. In March, Vice President Mike Pence called for NASA to send astronauts to the moon within five years.[1] Forty-two percent favor that idea, while 20% oppose and 38% neither favor nor oppose. Thirty-seven percent say sending astronauts to Mars should take precedence over going back to the moon, while 18% would rather have NASA send more astronauts to the moon. But 43% do not think either action should be a priority for the country. While about half of Americans would take the opportunity to orbit the Earth, most say they have no interest in traveling to the moon or Mars. Space travel has more appeal for younger adults."

Here's a reality check on NASA's Artemis Moon landing program, Ars Technica

"OMB is definitely trying to kill Gateway," a senior spaceflight source told Ars. "OMB looks at what the Vice President said about getting to the Moon by 2024, and says you could do it cheaper if you didn't have Gateway, and probably faster. They are fighting tooth and nail to nix the Gateway." Bridenstine, a White House appointee, is caught in the crossfire between OMB on one side and industry and NASA human spaceflight managers on the other side. The industry supports Gateway because it offers another source of potentially lucrative contracts during the coming decade, and NASA managers view the Gateway as a sustainable project. With the Gateway, they argue, Artemis won't turn into another flags-and-footprints program like Apollo."

OMB Has Its Sights Set On Gateway, earlier post

"Just as NASA was directed to speed up lunar landing plans for Artemis by VP Pence sources report that OMB is trying to find ways to kill Gateway. That would suggest a more direct lunar architecture is preferred by the White House - or at least some people there."

Back To The Moon - By Any Means Necessary, earlier post

"After months of being shy about how much it will cost to send Americans back to the lunar surface by 2024, NASA Administrator Bridenstine has finally started to get specific. Upon hearing the numbers no one is really experiencing sticker shock. We all knew it would be a large number range that is beyond anything NASA could be expected to get. But Bridenstine is undeterred and is marching forth trying to make this whole thing work."

Blood and Money, Wayne Hale

"We must have a clear-eyed appreciation for the risk involved in space exploration. Flying to the moon will not be much safer in 2024 than it was in 1969. Exploration always comes with risk, and with some regularity exploration risk is realized. The real cost of Artemis will be written in blood. Face that fact. This may be considered a poor time to bring this up - at a time when so many folks are actively working toward program approval. Death is hardly a selling point. But if we don't recognize that fact, the program will come apart at the first bad day."

Administrators Symposium on Risk and Exploration: Earth, Sea and the Stars, NASA (2004)

"Challenge fosters excellence, often drawing on previously untapped skills and abilities. Each of us takes and accepts risk as a part of our daily existence. We often go out of our way to seek challenge. However, seeking challenge often means accepting a high level of risk. The dictionary defi nes risk as being exposed to hazard or danger. To accept risk is to accept possible loss or injury, even death. One of the key issues that continues to be debated in the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Columbia is the level of risk NASA accepted. And, ultimately, the entire nation is now engaged in a broader debate over whether or not the exploration of space is worth the risk of human life. While risk can often be reduced or controlled, there comes a point when the removal of all risk is either impossible or so impractical that it completely undermines the very nature of what NASA was created to do--to pioneer the future. Everyone today understands that human space exploration is a risky endeavor. However, the quest for discovery and knowledge, and the risks involved in overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles is not unique to NASA. Whether the challenge is exploring the depths of our oceans or reaching the top of our highest mountains, great feats usually involve great risk."

Fortuna Audaces Juvat, @JimBridenstine, earlier post

"During that time when the VSE was seen as a refreshing recommitment to exploration post-Columbia - there was a momentary alliance between all factions. People thought bold adventurous thoughts again. Back to the Moon and then on to Mars. Craig Steidle was looking to do some branding and meme generation. He hit on one thing that was really ballsy (larger image) . The motto was "Fortuna Audaces Juvat" which is usually translated as a variant of "Fortune favors the bold" - a latin proverb most prominently repeated in Virgil's "Aeneid" at 10.284. You have no doubt seen this phrase before. Its common in the military - for good reasons. It has a Star Trek vibe to it. Craig Steidel drew a line in the sand and provided a motto to wear on one's shoulders as the agency set forth back into space. I thought it was a master stroke. Too bad NASA doesn't do things like this any more."

Keith's note: Wayne Hale's words ring true in a way we seem to be forgetting again. In 2004 John Grunsfeld and I organized a symposium on Risk and Exploration for Sean O'Keefe. At the core of this event was an attempt to compare risks faced - and accepted by NASA and those faced and accepted by other explorers. We held this event barely a year after the loss of Columbia - so these risk evaluations were foremost in everyone's minds. This event had a big effect on people's thinking - including Wayne Hale who ordered a box of copies of the Symposium's proceedings to use to educate his staff at JSC. So now here we are in 2019. We've had several accidents or "mishaps" as we develop commercial crew flights while flying on Soyuz spacecraft. NASA is now talking about skipping a "green test" - and all-up firing of the SLS first stage so that we can meet a rushed deadline - one set with little warning - to land humans on the Moon in 5 years.

Yes fortune does often favor the bold. But it also punishes the ill-prepared.

Space Exploration: Attitudes toward the U.S. Space Program, AP

"There is not overwhelming enthusiasm for returning to the moon. In March, Vice President Mike Pence called for NASA to send astronauts to the moon within five years. Forty-two percent favor that idea, while 20% oppose and 38% neither favor nor oppose. Thirty-seven percent say sending astronauts to Mars should take precedence over going back to the moon, while 18% would rather have NASA send more astronauts to the moon. But 43% do not think either action should be a priority for the country. While about half of Americans would take the opportunity to orbit the Earth, most say they have no interest in traveling to the moon or Mars. Space travel has more appeal for younger adults."

Back To The Moon - By Any Means Necessary, earlier post

"If Jim Bridenstine can craft the proverbial "elevator speech" that gets everyone, everywhere on board with Artemis - whether it is in the Halls of Congress or in a Walmart parking lot in 'Flyover Country' - then there will be no stopping NASA. Right now, PR slogans aside, the only clear reason we have is a directive from the White House with a delivery date that is equal to the length of a second term. Why isn't all of America buzzing about going back to the Moon? If NASA and Jim Bridenstine can answer that question then they will be well along the path of understanding how to find that elusive "Why" that Artemis is currently lacking."

Keith's note: It seems that this poll is answering my question. A lack of overt enthusiasm for Artemis and returning to the Moon may well reflect what the country is thinking right now. That can change - but only if the proponents for space exploration - be they NASA employees - or just regular citizens - need to make a better case for doing things in space. Absent that the polls are going to continue to be showing mediocre support.

Keith's note: After months of being shy about how much it will cost to send Americans back to the lunar surface by 2024, NASA Administrator Bridenstine has finally started to get specific. Upon hearing the numbers no one is really experiencing sticker shock. We all knew it would be a large number range that is beyond anything NASA could be expected to get. But Bridenstine is undeterred and is marching forth trying to make this whole thing work.

The cost numbers appeared in a CNN article yesterday: "NASA has touted its bold plan to return American astronauts to the moon by 2024 for months. Now we're starting to get an idea of how much it will cost. The space agency will need an estimated $20 billion to $30 billion over the next five years for its moon project, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told CNN Business on Thursday. That would mean adding another $4 billion to $6 billion per year, on average, to the agency's budget, which is already expected to be about $20 billion annually. Bridenstine's remarks are the first time that NASA has shared a total cost estimate for its moon program, which is called Artemis (after the Greek goddess of the moon) and could send people to the lunar surface for the first time in half a century. NASA wants that mission to include two astronauts: A man and the first-ever woman to walk on the moon."

Let's take the high end of the cost range = $30 billion. NASA has asked for $1.6 billion as a supplement to its FY 2020 Budget. So lets round out the remainder to $28 billion. In order for the whole Artemis Moon 2024 thing to happen that additional money needs to appear - dependably on time - over the course of FY 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and likely 2025. Let's ignore ramp ups and other things associated with typical programs and divide this amount by 5. You get an additional $5.6 billion every year. Or, lets be charitable and assume that they hit the lower number i.e. $20 billion. After deducting the current $1.6 billion request that leaves roughly $18 billion in additional funding or $3.6 billion in additional funding per year. So NASA needs somewhere between $3.6 and $5.6 billion a year for 5 fiscal years in order to meet the vice president's goal of landing Americans on the Moon by the end of 2024.

Over the past several years NASA watched the lifetime of ISS extended again and again. Now the target seems to be in the 2028-2030 range. NASA had hoped to totally hand over LEO operations to the private sector so that they could pivot several billion a year into the Moon program - and that was the program aimed at a 2028 landing. Now that goal post has been moved up by 4 years. This ISS hand off is not going to happen. None of the business ideas presented to NASA recently work unless NASA is still paying the lion's share of the bills. So NASA is going to be funding ISS operations for the next decade.

Add in chronic SLS delays and cost increases, problems with JWST, and pressure to increase funding in its various science portfolios and NASA is already totally over subscribed and under equipped fiscally to achieve all that is on its plate. Using commercial alternatives is smart and will decrease costs but NASA will still be billions of dollar short - at the onset - as it embarks on the Moon 2024 effort. The only way to possibly meet the Moon 2024 deadline is to find throw out the program of record and try something much more spartan. But we all know that SLS and Orion are not going to be cancelled. Full stop.

Regardless of how NASA does this much more money is going to be needed. And that money will have to be fought for. The Administration is going to have to champion these costs increases for the remainder of this term and the entirety of a hypothetical second term. And they they will have to do so while pursuing cuts to other parts of the government - as they have claimed that they will be doing. Congress is not likely to go along with this lopsided support of NASA while other science and technology efforts are cut.

If a new Administration takes over in early 2021 then one has to wonder if Artemis and the 2024 deadline will survive. High visibility, pet projects touted by prior Administrations rarely survive intact when the new folks show up.

So - its all gloomy and impossible and foolish to even attempt this Moon 2024 thing, right? No. Not at all. We have unfinished business on the Moon - and if we do not go back, other nations will. The only way that Artemis can succeed in meeting a 2024 deadline is if it is conducted by NASA using the smartest approach available and if NASA is willing to walk away from expensive mistakes, eat the costs, and accept the criticisms that go with admitting failure.

Moreover, to ensure that the Artemis program is not guaranteed to drop dead in 2021, NASA needs to equip it with a simple, internally - and externally consistent reason for being. Even if this Administration gets a second term, Bridenstine is going to need Democratic buy-in to get the $1.6 billion. He is going to need it for another 5 years to get all of the money. And if the White House changes hands, he will need that buy-in even more.

But we do have a solution. A few months ago Vice President Pence said "But know this: The President has directed NASA and Administrator Jim Bridenstine to accomplish this goal by any means necessary. In order to succeed, as the Administrator will discuss today, we must focus on the mission over the means. You must consider every available option and platform to meet our goals, including industry, government, and the entire American space enterprise."

NASA has only danced around the whole "by any means necessary" option. Now that the immense monetary needs are coming into focus it is obvious that NASA needs to revisit the means whereby this Moon project is accomplished. The current assumptions under which it is proceeding simply will not work. The money will not be there.

If Jim Bridenstine can craft the proverbial "elevator speech" that gets everyone, everywhere on board with Artemis - whether it is in the Halls of Congress or in a Walmart parking lot in 'Flyover Country' - then there will be no stopping NASA. Right now, PR slogans aside, the only clear reason we have is a directive from the White House with a delivery date that is equal to the length of a second term.

Why isn't all of America buzzing about going back to the Moon? If NASA and Jim Bridenstine can answer that question then they will be well along the path of understanding how to find that elusive "Why" that Artemis is currently lacking.

Dear Colleague Letter From The Lunar Exploration Analysis Group On The Proposed NASA Budget Amendment

"It came to our attention that the AAS / DPS sent a letter to its membership on 23 May 2019 detailing its concerns about three issues associated with the NASA proposed budget amendment and the rollout of the NASA Artemis program. These concerns include: the proposed Pell Grant offset, the NASA Administrator's proposed transfer authority, and "lack of community consensus on the science program." The first two concerns have to do with priorities within the administration, and the AAS/DPS stance is echoed by other professional societies. However, the third concern, that "there is not a community- wide consensus" on the lunar science to be accomplished with the requested $90M within the amendment, is incorrect and deserves clarification. LEAG was consulted extensively by NASA in the formulation of LDEP."

Message from the AAS President and DPS Chair: Moon - 2024?

"Since the changes in civilian space policy to return to the Moon have occurred after the last planetary science decadal survey in 2013 and that survey's midterm assessment in 2018, there is not a community-wide consensus on where the Administration's proposed lunar science program would rank within the relative priorities for lunar science, let alone within the priorities for the overall planetary science enterprise. The primary new lunar mission prioritized by the 2013 planetary decadal was the Lunar Geophysical Network (recommended for inclusion in the fifth New Frontiers competition). The 2013 survey also reaffirmed the 2003 survey's Lunar South Pole- Aitken Basin Sample Return mission for the fifth New Frontiers competition since it wasn't selected in the fourth New Frontiers round."

Taking an Anti-Moon 2024 Position While Pretending Not To, earlier post

"We have decided against taking an official position on NASA's Artemis proposal at this time. It is still very early, and we do not think that the benefits of public opposition to an ill-defined and untested proposal outweigh the use of political capital, at least not yet."

Review: Apollo 8 - "First To The Moon"

"A new documentary on Apollo 8, "First To The Moon", by filmmaker Paul Hildebrandt has been released. I am not going to mince words: this is the finest space documentary I have ever seen. Full stop. As we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of first human landing on the Moon, everything Apollo is new again. While most of the attention is focused on the Apollo 11 mission one documentary focuses its gaze back in time to the first human mission to visit the Moon: Apollo 8."

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/nepal.moon.jpg

Nepali student's artwork to land on the Moon in 2020, The Himalayan Times

"Kathmandu-based Kanjirowa National Secondary School today announced that it is all set to send its student's artwork to the Moon. According to Kapil Dev Regmi the Chairman of the school, the artefact will be brought to the surface of the Moon by Astrobotic Technologies' Peregrine lander, flown aboard United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket, both American companies, in the year 2020. "The art represents Nepal's unique identity which is very symbolic and it represents Nepal."

Regmi shared that Kanjirowa is very proud to send Nepal's first ever object to the Moon. The artwork was designed by Kanjirowa student Bipina Sharma, he added. Regmi also expressed his gratitude to Tristram Perry who has always been supportive of Kanjirowa. "I am sure it is an achievement and will be a time to remember in the future," he added. He further expressed his strong interest to work together with Ministry of Science and Technology and US Embassy in for further STEM project collaboration. During the program, a model of the Atlas V rocket was also exhibited.

It has been possible because of the untiring efforts of our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) collaborator, Michael Kronmiller, with the support of his family and a world class team of advisers, including American astronauts, according to Regmi. STEM education was introduced at Kanjirowa with the initiation of Michael Kronmiller, joined by his father, former US Ambassador, Theodore Kronmiller, and it has been the first school in Nepal to introduce this high-technology-oriented curriculum. Kronmiller expressed his belief that US Government could contribute more to Nepal as the Nepali Government has taken STEM education positively."

Keith's note: It was exciting to hear that Astrobotic was selected by NASA to go to the Moon. This idea for this payload came from Michael Kronmiller. Mike was directly inspired by the Everest and Moon rocks that Scott Parazynski and I managed to get up to the International Space Station. Scott, myself, and Bill Readdy served as advisors for several STEM education projects that Mike did in Nepal including the flying a drone at Everest Base Camp. Mike is the son of our friends Kate and Ted Kronmiller who have been prominent members of the DC space community for decades. I can't tell you how cool this is. Scott and I often joked that our Moon and Everest rocks would stay on the ISS until we could figure out how to send them to the Moon. This is an even better option! Meanwhile a cubesat constructed by Nepalese students has been launched to the ISS.

Image: The Nepal Robotics' PEREGRINE Lunar Lander Payload-- 1" x 0.125" acrylic capsule including the Everest Summit rock. The Everest Summit rock fragment provided by Mike's Sherpa friend and guide, Ang Tshering Lama.

- Moon and Everest Rocks At Home in Space
- Video: Moon and Everest Rocks Installed on The International Space Station, 2010

NASA to Announce Selection of Science Commercial Moon Landing Services, Hold Media Teleconference

"NASA will announce the next major step in the Artemis program's lunar surface exploration plans during a NASA Science Live broadcast at 1 p.m. EDT Friday, May 31. The announcement will air on NASA Television and the agency's website. Paving the way to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon, and ultimately Mars, NASA will announce the selection of the first commercial Moon landing service providers that will deliver science and technology payloads as part of the agency's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS). These missions will acquire new science measurements and enable important technology demonstrations, whose data will inform the development of future landers and other exploration systems needed for astronauts to return to the Moon by 2024."

NASA Selects First Commercial Moon Landing Services for Artemis Program

"- Astrobotic of Pittsburgh has been awarded $79.5 million and has proposed to fly as many as 14 payloads to Lacus Mortis, a large crater on the near side of the Moon, by July 2021.
- Intuitive Machines of Houston has been awarded $77 million. The company has proposed to fly as many as five payloads to Oceanus Procellarum, a scientifically intriguing dark spot on the Moon, by July 2021.
- Orbit Beyond of Edison, New Jersey, has been awarded $97 million and has proposed to fly as many as four payloads to Mare Imbrium, a lava plain in one of the Moon's craters, by September 2020."

NASA: Sustained presence on the moon will be a good investment, OpEd, Janet L. Kavandi, USA Today

"The Artemis Generation changes that. Our nation must take the next giant leap so long promised. As a female astronaut, I followed pioneers like Sally Ride to space and helped solidify their gains. Women's next frontier will be the moon. Nothing will inspire the next generation more than a sustained presence on the moon leading to deep space exploration. Our return to the moon also drives new technologies. And the scientific discoveries of recent years leave no doubt the moon has much more to reveal about Earth and our solar system."

Keith's note: Its hard to argue with anything in this OpEd. It makes mention of the "Artemis Generation" - a phrase coined by Jim Bridenstine. But who is the Artemis Generation? Is it the people currently working in the space business? Is it the students in school who will come of age as the Moon landings happen? Or is it a much broader segment of the population - one that NASA yearns to reach but never manages to contact? NASA has yet to define this. But that does not stop NASA from trying to read the minds of the Artemis Generation and second guess what sort of memes will tickle their fancy when it comes to the whole Moon 2024 thing.

Alas, in true NASA fashion, NASA continues to talk about the Artemis Generation as something they have decided to define. However they have yet to actually talk to the Artemis Generation. Newspaper OpEds only reach people who still read newspapers - paper or online. Is it on Reddit? Snapchat? Instagram? If NASA is trying to reach the next generation of people who will directly benefit from Artemis then they need to start using the modalities that they use. Moreover, NASA needs to go outside its usual confort zone - the "choir practice amongst the usual suspects" that I often refer to.

You'd think that the Space interest groups would do this. But they only talk to each other. The National Space Society is having its ISDC event in DC next week. Is it being webcast? No. Why bother telling the rest of the taxpaying public how space is an important thing that they should support? Yet Jim Bridenstine used his own cellphone to livestream a speech he made at an agricultural fair in California earlier this year. The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, the Space Foundation, the Aerospace Industries Association, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, the AIAA, and so on - powered by millions of big aerospace dollars - could all be meeting with NASA to help reach the Artemis Generation and reach out beyond familiar territory. If they are I see no evidence that they are going to do anything. They never have. I doubt they ever will. They only exist to make sure money goes to their membership.

NASA's embryonic outreach efforts for Artemis/Moon 2024 are suffering from echoes of Apollo. It is perfectly fine to try and rekindle the same sort of excitement that I saw as a young boy during Apollo. But to assume that the same marketing psychology that worked with Apollo i.e. saying that it is important because NASA and the White House thinks it is important - is going to miss the mark with the real Artemis Generation. Did NASA use the same mindset to promote Apollo in the 1960s as was used to market aviation when the Wright Brothers were making their first flights? No. Similarly, heavily leaning on the Apollo mindset 50 years later is simply not going to work today.

NASA loves to broadcast what they think people should hear. Rarely do they ask what people want to hear, listen, and then adjust their message accordingly.

When NASA can reach the young people walking out of a Walmart in "Flyover Country" with a message about Artemis/Moon 2024 that resonates with their reality - only then will NASA have truly tapped the Artemis Generation - and be able to utilize their interest to help move the program forward. In the mean time their outreach efforts are just talking points on Powerpoint presentations that NASA civil servants bounce off of one another in windowless conference rooms about what they think people should find interesting or important - not what people in the real world actually think to be interesting or important.

During Thursday's NASA Advisory Council meeting Jim Bridenstine, who seems to have endless, relentless energy when it comes to promoting Artemis, asked the NAC membership what they thought was important about going back (or "forward") to the Moon. While they all had interesting things to say they all said pretty much what Janet Kavandi said. No one in the room was at the cusp of the beginning of a career. No one was from a middle class family. No one was seemingly from the Artemis Generation. More choir practice.

NASA has an unusual historic moment lying ahead of itself: the Apollo 11 50th anniversary. I have lived in metro Washington, DC for 33 years. I was at the big events for the 20th, 30th, and 40th anniversaries. I know how these things are planned. There will be a global focus on everything NASA says and does for a week in July. If the 50th anniversary events focus on elderly Apollo astronauts on a stage before an audience of adoring, aging baby boomers talking about how great Apollo was and maybe we should all do it again - since we miss Apollo - then Artemis will die before it is even born.

Go ahead and bring the Apollo legends on the stage. They are legends - and they are becoming rarer with inevitable frequency. But as they stand forth, NASA needs to push the envelope, turn the volume up to 11, take a risk and give America - and the world - something to talk about. Something to inspire the unusual suspects, so to speak.

Wouldn't it be something if ardent space fan Ariana Grande walked on that same stage, while the Apollo test pilots looked on, called herself "Artemis", and then belted out a song about wanting to be the first woman on the Moon.

Moon 2024?, American Astronomical Society

"We have decided against taking an official position on NASA's Artemis proposal at this time. It is still very early, and we do not think that the benefits of public opposition to an ill-defined and untested proposal outweigh the use of political capital, at least not yet. We are clearly opposed to the Pell Grant offset on principle, and we have serious concerns about the proposed transfer authority and the as-yet undefined scientific content of the proposed crewed Artemis lunar program."

Keith's note: Is is abundantly clear what the AAS thinks even if it is not official. So its sort of silly to say that no official position has been taken since an official blog post makes it clear what the current thinking is. Just sayin' Oh yes: NASA noticed.

Let's Stop Going in Circles - And Go Somewhere (2002).

"Between the time I was 2 and when I turned 14 humanity went from zero spaceflight capability to putting humans on the Moon. To me, my first vision of spaceflight was one where quantum leaps were to be expected. I knew this because I saw these leaps happening before my own eyes. That expectation took a firm hold of me and hasn't left me - or many of my generation. Yet we, and the generation that has followed us, have been cheated of what could have been done in space.

In the following three decades we have yet to send humans back to the Moon. Indeed, it would probably take us longer to recreate the ability to "land humans on the Moon and return them safely to the Earth" than it did to do so the first time. As for sending humans to Mars - it was 20 years or so away when I was a kid. Thirty years later it is still that far off - if not further.

As for the ISS, we could have built this - and should have built this - a decade ago. Now that the ISS has managed to become reality we need to refocus it - and ourselves - towards the true exploration of space. We need to go somewhere for a change. We can't sit at home - or drive around the block - and call ourselves "explorers"."

Keith's note: I wrote this in 2002 - 17 years ago. I was frustrated then. I am frustrated now. Someone born in the year I wrote only knows a world where people live permanently in space. Alas, yet another generation has grown to adulthood without seeing humans walk on another world.

Expeditionary Astronauts Wanted, SpaceRef

"As NASA returns humans to the Moon and then heads out to Mars, a new type of astronaut will be required to explore these worlds. Let's called them "expeditionary astronauts". Just as expeditions fanned out across our planet to explore its wonders, expeditions to other worlds are now on the horizon. Project Apollo gave us a taste of what this could be like. Project Artemis will take it to a whole new level. And how we do these things is going to be different. Unlike Apollo NASA plans to go back to the Moon utilizing partnerships with other space agencies and private companies. Some companies may even go there on their own. The people who go on these missions are going to need skillsets much more diverse and synergistic than their Apollo predecessors. One astronaut has already started."

NASA Awards Artemis Contract for Lunar Gateway Power, Propulsion

"This firm-fixed price award includes an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity portion and carries a maximum total value of $375 million. The contract begins with a 12-month base period of performance and is followed by a 26-month option, a 14-month option and two 12-month options."

Maxar Selected to Build, Fly First Element of NASA's Lunar Gateway

"Maxar previously conducted a four-month study to develop affordable and innovative electric-propulsion-enabled concepts for the power and propulsion element spacecraft. Building on the successful completion of the study, Maxar has been selected to proceed with development. The power and propulsion element will provide power, maneuvering, attitude control, communications systems and initial docking capabilities. Maxar is currently targeting launch of the element on a commercial rocket by late 2022."

Keith's note: Jim Bridenstine made repeated mention of the "Artemis Generation" today. In the press briefing after today's presentation by Bridenstine I asked HEOMD AA Bill Gerstenmaier what this means. There are just under 80 million K-12 and college students in America. That's a lot - nearly 1/4 of all Americans. Back in the 60s when Gerst and I were growing up you could not escape mention of Apollo. NASA did an excellent job of making sure that all students knew what was going on and it was linked to the need to study math and science. NASA had to actually create whole new areas of study in universities since the specialties needed to study the Moon hardly existed. So how will NASA step up to create the Artemis Generation? Will it take an active role or is this just buzz words that NASA hopes someone elese will run with? Gerst gives a good reply - as does Mike Gold from Maxar. What I am really interested in hearing is what Jim Bridenstine thinks this means and what he envisons as NASA's role in creating, shaping, and supporting the Artemis Generation.


NASA Administrator to Make Artemis Moon Program Announcement, Media Teleconference Set

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will make a significant announcement about the Artemis program's lunar exploration plans at 1 p.m. EDT Thursday, May 23, at the Florida Institute of Technology. The remarks will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Administrator Bridenstine will announce the commercial partner selection to develop and build the first segment of NASA's Gateway outpost - the power and propulsion element (PPE). Gateway will be the lunar orbiting staging point to send astronauts to the Moon's surface in five years. Following his remarks, Bridenstine will answer questions from media at 2:10 p.m., in the Digital Scholarship Lab at Florida Institute of Technology's Evans Library, 2949 Science Cir., Melbourne. NASA also will host a media teleconference at 2:45 p.m."

- Status of Gateway Power and Propulsion Element (PPE)
- Spaceflight Demonstration of a Power and Propulsion Element (PPE)
- Spacecraft Demonstration of a Power and Propulsion Element Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) 80GRC018R0005
Industry Day July 10, 2018

Page 146-149: attendees: ADTL, Inc., Advanced Space, LLC, Aerojet Rocketdyne, The Boeing Company, Draper, Firefly Aerospace, Honeywell, Human SpaceFlight Institute, Kratos|RT Logic, L3 Technologies, Leidos Innovations, Lockheed Martin Space, MAXAR Technologies, Moog, Inc., Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, RUAG Space USA, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Space Systems/Loral, SpaceX, Spectrolab, Inc., TTTech North America

Can Trump Put NASA Astronauts on the Moon by 2024? It's Unlikely, NY Times

"Although he has not spoken to Mr. Trump about the revised moon program, Mr. Bridenstine said the president was keen on this goal. "It was by his direction that we do this," he said. "Yet to be seen is whether this is a political priority the administration will make the effort to follow through on. Last year, the administration gave NASA a different, big task to accomplish by the end of 2024: ending direct federal financing of the International Space Station, one of NASA's largest yearly expenditures. That proposal ran into strong opposition from Ted Cruz, a Republican Senator from Texas. Since then, NASA has made no significant announcements about how it plans to shift to commercial space stations that do not yet exist."

Donald Trump is not getting his space money, Quartz

"Last week, the White House submitted a late funding request for an additional $1.6 billion in spending on a proposed Artemis moon program to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024. Today, the House Appropriations committee left that request out of its spending plan for NASA and ignored many of the administration's other space priorities. Without that funding, any hope of the accelerated mission to the moon touted by Vice President Mike Pence is likely to disappear. It was a similar story yesterday, when the committee rejected White House plans to consolidate military space activity into a new service called Space Force."

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NASA's full Artemis plan revealed: 37 launches and a lunar outpost, Ars Technica

"Last week, an updated plan that demonstrated a human landing in 2024, annual sorties to the lunar surface thereafter, and the beginning of a Moon base by 2028, began circulating within the agency. A graphic, shown below, provides information about each of the major launches needed to construct a small Lunar Gateway, stage elements of a lunar lander there, fly crews to the Moon and back, and conduct refueling missions."

Keith's note: Speaking as someone who did graduate research in gravitational biology and who worked at NASA Headquarters and elsewhere as a space life scientist, I am quite interested in the adaptations of life to prolonged exposure to conditions on the Moon. I am certain that there are changes in living systems in fractional gravity wherein changes in genomic expression can be measured. We've seen it in humans and other organisms exposed to microgravity in spaceflight and centrifugation (simulated hypergravity) on Earth. Alas, to date, the vast bulk of research where changes in gene expression are studied have to do with microgravity - not lunar or martian gravity.

Its nice to know that someone at NASA Gene Lab is paying attention to the news regarding Artemis and Moon2024. But the suggestion in this tweet that they might have anything relevant to 0.16G biology at this time is probably tenuous, at best. Indeed, a simple key word search of their website for "lunar" and "moon" shows this to be the case. But at least they are stepping up to the plate - which is good. A look at the NASA Space Station and CASIS websites shows no mention of Artemis or Moon2024.

One would hope that NASA would have an integrated strategy for such research that spans Earth- and space-based facilities. Right now its more like competing fiefdoms within NASA's sphere of funding influence rather than an overall, integrated program with clear goals directly related to operational as well as fundamental science. If preparatory work is needed to enable safe human operations and other life forms in lunar gravity to support the Artemis program (which is going to start up on the lunar surface in 2024) NASA should have already have enabling research under way. Instead it has a scattered collection of things. Someone needs to bring order to this disarray and create an integrated program of space biology and medicine at NASA so as to flight certify humans and other forms of life for prolonged exposure to other worlds. And this integrated program needs to be able to provide useful information in time to actually inform NASA mission planners - not after the fact.

Chairwomen Johnson and Horn Question Funding Plan for NASA's Accelerated Moon Landing Program

"While I am a supporter of challenging human space exploration endeavors that can take us to the Moon and eventually to Mars, based on the limited information provided to Congress it is impossible to judge the merits of the President's budget amendment," saidChairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. "We don't know how much money will be required in total to meet the arbitrary 2024 Moon landing deadline or how that money will be spent. We don't know how much additional money will subsequently be required to turn the crash program to get astronauts to the Moon by 2024 into a sustainable exploration program that will lead to Mars. And we don't know what NASA's technical plan for its lunar program is. What we do know is that the President is proposing to further cut a beneficial needs-based grants program that provides a lifeline to low-income students, namely the Pell Grants program, in order to pay for the first year of this initiative--something that I cannot support."

Trump targets Pell Grant money for NASA's budget boost, AP/Washington Post

"The Trump administration wants to shift money for Pell Grants for college education to fund new spending, including a $1.6 billion bump for NASA to return American astronauts to the moon by 2024. Under a budget amendment sent to Congress Monday evening, the administration would use an additional $1.9 billion in surplus Pell Grant money to fund other budget priorities, including an infusion of new cash for NASA "so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!" President Donald Trump tweeted. ,,, Officials insisted the re-allocation of the Pell Grant money would have no impact on those currently receiving grants, which help low-income students pay for college. "This does not cut any spending for Pell Grant programs as the budget continues to ensure all students will get their full Pell Grant and keeps the program on sound fiscal footing," Office of Management and Budget spokesman Wesley Denton said in a statement."

Today 12:30 p.m. EDT: NASA Town Hall on Moon 2024 Budget Amendment with Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Watch at http://nasa.gov/nasalive


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