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Trying To Understand What NASA Is Saying About Resource Prospector

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
April 27, 2018
Filed under

Keith’s note: I just heard from NASA PAO “As you know, our statement and the Administrator’s tweet are now out. Regarding the LEAG letter, yes, there will be a response. In addition, we are working on cost and will get back to you.”
The @JimBridenstine tweet points to this link which has an update:
“April 27, 2018 – Update: NASA is developing an exploration strategy to meet the agency’s expanded lunar exploration goals. Consistent with this strategy, NASA is planning a series of progressive robotic missions to the lunar surface. In addition, NASA has released a request for information on approaches to evolve progressively larger landers leading to an eventual human lander capability. As part of this expanded campaign, selected instruments from Resource Prospector will be landed and flown on the Moon. This exploration campaign reinforces Space Policy Directive 1, which calls for an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system, including returning humans to the Moon for long-term exploration.”
Keith’s earlier note: It would seem that NASA Administrator Bridenstine is responding directly via @JimBridenstine and not through normal PAO channels. I sent the following request to NASA HEOMD, SMD, and PAO earlier today. I have not received an official response yet: “On 26 April 2018 the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) sent a letter to NASA Headquarters stating that the Resource Prospector mission had been cancelled by NASA and that no explanation has been offered as to why it was cancelled. (see However, on 26 April 2018 the official Twitter account @JimBridenstine stated (in part) “… Excited to get to work on our plan to sustainably return America to the surface of the Moon starting with an aggressive robotic program.” (see Mr. Bridenstine’s tweet seems to be at odds with action taken simultaneously by NASA HQ.
1. Has the Resource Prospector mission been cancelled by NASA? If so when was it cancelled, who cancelled it, and why was it cancelled?
2. Will NASA be issuing a public statement with regard to the cancellation of the Resource Prospector mission?
3. Will NASA be responding to the letter sent by the LEAG on the topic of the Resource Prospector mission cancellation?
4. How much has NASA spent to date on the Resource Prospector mission?
5. Will any Resource Prospector- related activities continue after the cancellation of the mission itself? If so what activities will continue?
6. Was Administrator Bridenstine referring to the Resource Prospector mission in his tweet?”

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.

2 responses to “Trying To Understand What NASA Is Saying About Resource Prospector”

  1. Alan Boyle says:

    Sounds like the folks at NASA came to the realization that they’ll be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on commercial lander initiatives – and decided that they’d hold up and try to figure out how to put ISRU payloads on those landers (and the rovers that come with them).

    • Henry Vanderbilt says:

      Agreed, with one quibble: “Hold up” may not be the best way to describe the change in switching from NASA’s traditionally glacial in-house spacecraft development process to fast-track commercially developed landers with NASA Resource Prospector instrument payloads. The net result could well be a lot more resource data coming in a lot sooner.

      Could well be, mind. Not “will be” yet, because it’s not clear how traditional NASA will respond to all this. There are some seriously entrenched interests within NASA that assume it’s their carved-in-stone exclusive right to spend decades and tens of billions developing any NASA human-rated lander.

      “..evolve progressively larger landers leading to an eventual human lander capability” explicitly threatens this assumption. I expect we’ll see significant pushback.