Artemis: January 2021 Archives

NASA delays moon lander awards as Biden team mulls moonshot program, The Verge

"Last Wednesday, NASA told the three contractors that an extension to their development contracts "will be required," picking a new award date of April 30th. Under the Trump administration's timeline, the agency had planned to pick two of the three bidders in late February, giving a stamp of approval for two systems that would inevitably carry humans to the moon. The delay was all but certain: The spending bill Congress passed in December gives NASA $850 million for the Human Landing System program, far short of the $3.2 billion it needed to stick with the 2024 timeline."

Earlier posts on Artemis

SLS Green Run Update

Green Run Update: Data and Inspections Indicate Core Stage in Good Condition

"The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket Green Run team has reviewed extensive data and completed preliminary inspections that show the rocket's hardware is in excellent condition after the Green Run test that ignited all the engines at 5:27 p.m. EST at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. After analyzing initial data, the team determined that the shutdown after firing the engines for 67.2-seconds on Jan.16 was triggered by test parameters that were intentionally conservative to ensure the safety of the core stage during the test."

Keith's note: I am hearing that within NASA that many people think that it is almost a given that they need to try the Green Run test again. Its that whole 2024 deadline thing that is pushing them right now. Well, the impetus for that deadline - widely seen as impossible to meet - will evaporate at noon on Wednesday. There is broad consensus that a landing date along the lines of 2028 is considered to be more likely - as noted below. The reasons are simple - the whole Artemis program is woefully behind schedule and Congress did not give NASA the budget needed to try and make it happen. Yet if you read this tweet or heard the NASA PAO announcer during the test the agency and Congress are still holding to the 2024 date in spite of admitting the obvious.

I asked about this at the SLS -post test press event - rather, I tried to ask about this. Despite sending an emailed question to NASA PAO during the SLS post-test press event - exactly like all other media did - PAO decided not to let my question be asked. But they allowed every other question through. So I complained. I had originally asked "Sen. Wicker tweeted today that NASA is going to land on the Moon in 2024 and on Mars in 2029. Can you explain how this is possible given the budget NASA has been given?". This was in response to a tweet that Wicker issued right after the test:

This is the reply NASA PAO just sent me:

"We're grateful for the strong bipartisan support for the Artemis program as reflected in the FY 2021 Omnibus Appropriation passed and signed last month. Congress continues to recognize the value in America's Moon to Mars plans, providing funding for human landing system (HLS) development. As you've heard me say before, funding is one of the challenges we have to navigate as we continue our work toward a sustainable exploration program that lasts a generation. Landing the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024 remains our goal, but NASA will work with the incoming Biden Administration to do it smartly and get it done right."

In other words yet another non-answer answer.

Keith's note: In summary NASA is not sure how long the engines fired. Seriously - they said that they do not know. They saw a flash near engine 4 and moments later the rocket commanded itself to shut down. They do not know the cause of the shutdown, nor whether the test needs to be run again nor whether they can ship the rocket to KSC. They do not know if a flight in 2021 is possible.

Keith's note: The 4 engines lit up and ran for 2 minutes or so before there was a MCF (major component failure call) and then they continued to fire for a few more seconds before they shut down. This was supposed to be an 8 minute test and various sources have suggested that more firing time than 2 minutes was needed - even if the full 8 minutes was not achieved - so as to get all the required data. There will be a press conference in several hours. What is somewhat baffling is how NASA PAO only had a prewritten script for a successful test (and presumably one for a total failure) but not one for something in between. This was not the success that PAO claims it was. Yet their on-air host went on and on as if everything was fine. Stay tuned.


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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Artemis category from January 2021.

Artemis: December 2020 is the previous archive.

Artemis: February 2021 is the next archive.

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