Artemis Program News
Artemis Program news chronology
NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft atop arrived at Launch Pad 39B at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida Friday in preparation for a final test before its Artemis I Moon mission.
Stacked on the mobile launcher and mounted on the crawler-transporter for a journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39B, it took 10-hours and 28 minutes for SLS and Orion to reach the launch pad four miles away. The trip began at 5:47 p.m. Thursday, March 17, and the 322-foot tall, 3.5-million-pound rocket and spacecraft arrived at the pad at 4:15 a.m. on March 18.
Israel Space Agency Director General Uri Oron signed the document during a ceremony Jan. 26 in Tel Aviv, pledging more support for the international Artemis program that aims to return humans to the moon in 2025.
Launching with the Artemis I uncrewed test flight, NASA's shoebox-size Near-Earth Asteroid Scout will chase down what will become the smallest asteroid ever to be visited by a spacecraft. It will get there by unfurling a solar sail to harness solar radiation for propulsion, making this the agency's first deep space mission of its kind.
A simulated launch and core stage testing are all part of getting ready for a round-the-moon trip. The first moonbound rocket and spacecraft of NASA's Artemis program are expected to do a "wet dress rehearsal" on the launch pad in February, the agency said. Engineers on the mission, expected to launch later this year, put the mission hardware through a series of checks to make sure they're ready for the milestone, which will be key in determining Artemis 1's readiness for flight.
NASA's Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) program and prime launch processing contractor Jacobs are performing final installations, functional checks, and buttoning up the Artemis 1 vehicle in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida before rolling it out to its seaside launch pad for the first time. Rollout to Launch Pad 39B will be no earlier than mid-February after an engine computer needed to be replaced at the end of the year.
This week, engineers and technicians successfully completed an engineering test series of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center as part of the integrated testing before launch. After replacing and testing one of four RS-25 engine controllers, the team conducted several tests to ensure the massive core stage is ready to roll to the launch pad for the wet dress rehearsal ahead of the Artemis I launch.
On Jan. 11, engineers and technicians with Exploration Ground Systems retracted and extended the Orion spacecraft crew access arm as part of ongoing work leading up to the Artemis I wet dress rehearsal targeted for late February.
Flying on NASA's Orion spacecraft during the uncrewed Artemis I mission will be Callisto, a technology demonstration developed through a reimbursable space act agreement with Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin has partnered with Amazon, and Cisco to bring the Alexa digital assistant and Webex video collaboration aboard Orion's first flight test in deep space.
Engineers and technicians continue to complete integrated tests inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center as part of the lead up to launch of the Artemis I mission.
Amazon's Alexa has a new feature: it can fly you to the moon. The virtual assistant, which is more commonly used (on Earth) to control devices around your home, is set to launch on a journey around the moon aboard NASA's Artemis 1 mission later this year. Together with Cisco's Webex video conferencing platform, Alexa is part of "Callisto," a new far-field voice technology, AI and tablet-based video demonstration created with Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for NASA's Orion spacecraft.
Kathy Lueders, head of NASA's newly minted Space Operations Mission Directorate, joined us at TC Sessions: Space last week for a chat about the future of the agency and what she is looking forward to - and dreading - in the next decade of missions.
After four weeks of troubleshooting, NASA announced its decision to remove an engine controller from one of the four RS-25 engines on the SLS Core Stage and replace it with a spare unit. Although some pre-launch preparations continued around the problem and troubleshooting, the issue has delayed final preparations to roll the vehicle out to the launch pad and pushed readiness to launch outside of a two-week period of opportunity in the second half of February.
The launch of Artemis I, NASA's historic next mission to the moon, has been pushed back to March 2022 at the earliest.
NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft are undergoing integrated testing inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to ensure they are "go" for launch of the Artemis I mission early next year.
The government of Mexico announced Dec. 9 that it is signing the U.S.-led Artemis Accords outlining best practices for space exploration. In a statement, Ebrard said Mexico looked forward to participating in NASA's Artemis program of lunar exploration, but did not disclose details regarding the role he thought the country would play in the effort. He said that, during the Apollo program a half century ago, "we were spectators, now we are going to be participants. It is a great step for Mexico."
Congress has approved more than $200 million to make repairs and officials hope to keep the Artemis mission back to the moon on track. Workers are busy repairing and hardening NASA's Michoud rocket construction facility after Hurricane Ida caused damage to it in August.
EGS, Jacobs, and the Orion and SLS teams are continuing testing and checkout of the vehicle, but the latest projections for the first rollout to Launch Pad 39B have moved from late-December 2021 to mid-January 2022. Meanwhile, engineers are also troubleshooting a problem with a controller for one of the four RS-25 engines in the SLS Core Stage. The nature of the problem and the path to a resolution are still unknown and will need to be factored in, but current forecasts for when the vehicle will be ready to launch have moved from the end of January to mid-February.
The Orion pressure vessel for NASA's Artemis III mission was lifted by crane for its move onto a work stand in the high bay of the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Oct. 20, 2021. The pressure vessel will be secured onto the work stand where Lockheed Matin technicians will begin the work to prepare the spacecraft for its launch atop a Space Launch System rocket.
A team of NASA and Northrop Grumman engineers fired a 2-foot-diameter, subscale solid rocket booster on December 2, 2021, at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This test, conducted in Marshall's East Test Area, was the second of three tests supporting the Booster Obsolescence and Life Extension (BOLE) program, which will have an upgraded design to power the evolved configuration of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on flights after Artemis VIII.
The goal is to speed up solar system communications.
The flights of Yuri Gagarin and Alan Shepard blazed a trail for human spaceflight that is still unfolding today.
NASA has awarded the Booster Production and Operations Contract (BPOC) to Northrop Grumman of Brigham City, Utah, to build boosters for the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to support nine SLS flights. Northrop Grumman, the lead booster contractor, has produced booster motors for the first three Artemis missions and is casting the motors for the fourth lunar mission.
NASA awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation a Booster Production and Operations Contract valued up to $3.19 billion to support the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket through 2031. The award includes follow-on production and flight sets for Artemis IV through Artemis VIII, as well as production of the Booster Obsolescence and Life Extension (BOLE) boosters for Artemis IX.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy visited the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville on Nov. 29 and 30 for tours and briefings on Marshall's role in the Artemis program and other capabilities that enrich many facets of the nation's space exploration endeavors. It was their first visit to Marshall in their current roles.
After evaluating more than 12,000 applications, NASA will introduce its 2021 astronaut candidates at 12:30 p.m. EST Monday, Dec. 6, from Ellington Field near NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. After completing training, these individuals could be eligible for a variety of flight assignments including missions on and around the Moon under Artemis.
Over the next fifteen years, multiple space agencies and their commercial partners intend to mount crewed missions to the Moon and Mars. In addition to placing 'footprints and flags' on these celestial bodies, there are plans to establish the infrastructure to allow for a long-term human presence. To meet these mission requirements and ensure astronaut safety, several technologies are currently being researched and developed.
The reactor will help sustain future missions on the moon, Mars and beyond, according to NASA.
In the coming months, NASA will launch the first Artemis mission from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. This milestone not only puts the United States on a path to return humans to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo Program, but also sets the stage for the next giant leap: exploration of Mars.
Crews transported the heat shield skin for a future mission of NASA's Orion spacecraft -- via the agency's Super Guppy oversize cargo transport aircraft -- to Moffett Federal Airfield on Nov. 9. The heat shield skin for the Artemis IV mission, the third crewed mission to the Moon, is now at Moffett Federal Airfield near NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, for the next phase of production.
Japan's space agency is set to recruit astronaut candidates for the first time in 13 years as part of efforts to support the NASA-led Artemis lunar exploration program.
Highly specialized team to design vehicle for sustainable lunar surface mobility operations.
The arrival of the second Orion European Service Module (ESM) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in October signified the beginning of months of final assembly of the first crewed Orion spacecraft that will fly four people on the Artemis 2 mission. Following the delivery of the ESM from prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space to Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin, the two primary elements of the Artemis 2 Orion Service Module are now being bolted together.
Chinese boots on the moon will be "entirely possible" by 2030 according to senior Chinese lunar program designer and engineer Ye Peijian.
And NASA likely won't return astronauts to the moon until several years after 2024, the report found.
The Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket for NASA's Artemis 1 mission are assembled, the Mobile Launcher is reconnected to the vehicle, and the processing team at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is resuming pre-launch testing and checkouts in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) ahead of the first rollout to the pad.
Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday said French President Emmanuel Macron is interested in joining the Artemis Accords, a 2020 agreement that promoted responsible space exploration and set the table for a return to the Moon.
NASA and the U.S. Navy are wrapping up the ninth in a series of tests at sea. They're verifying and validating procedures and hardware that will be used to recover the Orion spacecraft after it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean following deep space exploration missions.
Huntsville turned out a crowd in its downtown courthouse square Saturday to celebrate the upcoming first launch of NASA's Space Launch System, NASA's Alabama-led rocket built to return Americans to the moon. The square has been the traditional spot for space celebrations since Wernher von Braun got a ride on city leaders' shoulders after the first Apollo moon landing in 1969.
NASA was notified Thursday that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims denied Blue Origin's bid protest, upholding NASA's selection of SpaceX to develop and demonstrate a modern human lunar lander. NASA will resume work with SpaceX under the Option A contract as soon as possible.
A federal judge dismissed Blue Origin's lawsuit claiming NASA unfairly awarded Elon Musk's space company SpaceX with a $2 billion contract.
The construction of NASA's second Space Launch System Mobile Launcher (ML-2) has been delayed after NASA ran out of near-term funding. ML-2 is required due to the increase in height for the Block 1B version of the rocket, making it incompatible with the billion-dollar ML-1. However, some planned work will continue, such as testing umbilicals that have arrived at KSC at the Launch Equipment Test Facility (LETF).
Artemis 1: In 100 days NASA's long-awaited moon mission could blast-off. Here's everything you need to know[forbes.com - November 04, 2021]
When the flight hardware and ground systems are finally ready for the inaugural Artemis 1 launch to the Moon, NASA will also have to synchronize the timing of the flight with unique celestial mechanics. The Orion and Space Launch System (SLS) Programs in the Exploration Systems Development (ESD) division are working together to calculate when the Earth, Moon, and sometimes the Sun are all in the right positions to support the agency's requirements for this first joint Orion-SLS test flight.
NASA has selected National Geographic to help tell the story of Artemis II, the first Artemis flight that will carry astronauts around the Moon and back to Earth aboard the agency's Orion spacecraft.
Nasa's Orion crew capsule has been secured to the top of the Space Launch System rocket at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Final preparations are beginning for the first uncrewed launch in Nasa's Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon.
In a ceremony during the 72nd International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Polish Space Agency (POLSA) President Grzegorz Wrochna signed the Accords, which outline best practices for safe and sustainable space exploration, with NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. Poland is now the 13th country to join the accords.
After completing a DCR (Design Certification Review) in late September, the program engineering groups are now organizing the data to certify SLS's initial configuration for flight in a few months' time. Broken into multiple segments over more than a year's time, the review certified that the SLS Block 1 Crew vehicle meets the design requirements for its first launch and that the complete program is ready for its rocket to fly.
NASA has invited industry to submit responses to a Request for Information (RFI) to assist NASA in maximizing the long-term efficiency of the SLS rocket's super-heavy-lift, national launch capabilities while streamlining operations to minimize production, operations, and maintenance costs. NASA will use the information received to inform plans for production and operations of the SLS rocket beginning on or about Artemis V to ensure this national asset is available for decades of deep space exploration to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
The Orion spacecraft and mega-powerful Space Launch System are almost ready for their first big test.
NASA's Orion spacecraft is secured atop the agency's powerful Space Launch System rocket, and the integrated system is entering the final phase of preparations for an upcoming uncrewed flight test around the Moon. The mission, known as Artemis I, will pave the way for a future flight test with crew before NASA establishes a regular cadence of more complex missions with astronauts on and around the Moon under Artemis. With stacking complete, a series of integrated tests now sit between the mega-Moon rocket and targeted liftoff for deep space in February 2022.
The launch of Artemis I, an uncrewed mission serving as the first step of NASA's ambitious program to return humans to the moon, has been delayed until at least February, according to the agency. The mission was originally scheduled to launch in November, but delays due to the pandemic, storms like Hurrican Ida and other factors have drawn out the mission timeline.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is directing NASA to now choose a second company to develop a crewed lunar lander, however, this direction came with only a small funding increase.
Teams at NASA's Kennedy Space Center moved the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis 1 moon mission into the Vehicle Assembly Building Tuesday for stacking on top of the Space Launch System.
The Orion's capsule European Service Module uses engines inherited from the space shuttle.
NASA has completed the design certification review for the Space Launch System Program rocket ahead of the Artemis I mission to send the Orion spacecraft to the Moon. The review examined all the SLS systems, all test data, inspection reports, and analyses that support verification, to ensure every aspect of the rocket is technically mature and meets the requirements for SLS's first flight on Artemis I. "With this review, NASA has given its final stamp of approval to the entire, integrated rocket design and completed the final formal milestone to pass before we move forward to the SLS and Artemis I flight readiness reviews," John Honeycutt, SLS Program manager, said. He chaired the design certification review board held at Marshall Space Flight Center.
The second composites-intensive European Service Module (ESM-2), built by Airbus (Toulouse, France) for NASA's Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I and II moon missions, is ready for delivery from the Airbus site in Bremen, Germany. An Antonov cargo aircraft will fly the ESM-2 to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Fla., U.S. The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected Airbus as the prime contractor for the development and manufacture of six ESMs with the first ESM to fly soon on NASA's Artemis I mission.
The Artemis I Orion spacecraft is currently undergoing final checkouts before the critical milestone of transportation to the Vehicle Assembly Building for final stacking, integration, and checkout ahead of launch. Meanwhile, the Orion crew modules for the Artemis II, III, and IV missions are also continuing assembly in their processing flows.
Technicians have loaded the last of 10 CubeSats into the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket's five-foot-tall Orion stage adapter at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After the Orion spacecraft separates from the SLS rocket for a precise trajectory toward the Moon, the shoebox-sized payloads are released from the Orion stage adapter to conduct their own science and technology missions.
This is the second of a three-part series on the inauguration of the Artemis Lunar and Deep Space Missions using the SLS Rocket, developed and tested here in Huntsville, and set to launch tentatively, by the end of the year from Kennedy Space Flight Center.
Recently a NASA administrator said there was no firm first launch date for the Space Launch System (SLS). However, the administrator said that NASA would soon set a target launch date, but that target would likely be early 2022.
NASA has awarded a contract to Aerojet Rocketdyne Inc. of Redmond, Washington, for the development of the Orion Main Engine (OME), which will be used on the Orion spacecraft as part of the agency's Artemis program. The contract includes certification of the OME design, production, and special studies and tasks. It is a single-award, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with firm-fixed-price orders. The period of performance is from Sept. 21, 2021, through April 23, 2032, with a maximum value of $600 million.
The first flight of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft will not have a crew of astronauts on board, but there are several experienced teams of people behind the mission to ensure the success of the first SLS launch and Orion's first trip around the Moon.
The earliest NASA's first Space Launch System moon rocket could roll out from the Vehicle Assembly Building to its seaside launch complex in Florida is in late November, officials told Spaceflight Now, leaving little time to conduct a critical fueling test, roll the rocket back into the VAB for final closeouts, then return to the pad for liftoff before the end of the year.
NASA is asking American companies for additional input on approaches and solutions for a vehicle to transport Artemis astronauts around the lunar South Pole later this decade. The lunar terrain vehicle (LTV), an unenclosed rover that astronauts can drive on the Moon while wearing their spacesuits, will need to last at least 10 years, spanning multiple Artemis missions.
NASA's Near-Earth Asteroid Scout - or NEA Scout - is due to launch with the uncrewed test flight Artemis 1 no earlier than November 26, 2021. NEA Scout is a shoebox-sized cubesat that will navigate space and visit a near-Earth asteroid, all while sailing on sunlight. NEA Scout's voyage will take approximately two years and will provide researchers with an arsenal of data on near-Earth asteroids and how solar sail propulsion works in outer space.
NASA has installed 13 cubesats it selected several years ago to fly as secondary payloads on the Artemis 1 mission. The cubesats, each six units in size, come from a mix of NASA, international and academic developers.
The four ogive fairings for the Orion Artemis I mission are installed on the launch abort system assembly inside the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 20, 2021.
NASA and SpaceX will stand down until Nov. 1.
Artemis II launch slated for 2023 from Kennedy Space Center.
As the Artemis 1 SLS vehicle prepares to take its place on LC-39B later this year for its first round of pad testing ahead of its debut mission, the Space Launch System (SLS) and Artemis program represent yet another major alteration to the LC-39 area of the Kennedy Space Center, originally designed to meet President Kennedy's goal of landing a man on the Moon by the end of the 1960s.
As crews at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida assemble the Moon rocket for the Artemis I mission, teams have installed the flight software that will help steer, fly, track, and guide the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket during launch and ascent to space. Engineers loaded the flight software onto the rocket on August 6 after powering up the core stage that contains the flight computers for the first time since stacking began.
After stacking the stages of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for NASA's Artemis 1 mission in June and July, EGS and TOSC powered up the Core Stage for the first time in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on August 6. The initial power up was a significant milestone in pre-launch processing, marking the beginning of the systematic checkouts of the vehicle and ground systems that will be used for the first launch on Artemis 1.
New Zealand is now set to host the first launch of the Artemis Program, as Rocket Lab is now planning to launch the CAPSTONE mission from their operational launch pad at Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula. This is the first lunar mission for Rocket Lab, currently scheduled for launch in the fourth quarter of 2021.
OMOTENASHI (Outstanding MOon exploration Technologies demonstrated by NAno Semi-Hard Impactor) and ArgoMoon, which will both study the Moon, were integrated with their dispensers and installed on the Orion stage adapter along with seven other payloads for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket's first flight. A third payload, the BioSentinel CubeSat is the only CubeSat that will contain a biological experiment on Artemis I and will be the first CubeSat to support biological research in deep space.
Teams with NASA's Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) and contractor Jacobs integrated the launch abort system (LAS) with the Orion spacecraft inside the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 23, 2021.
The Team Miles and EQUilibriUm Lunar-Earth point 6U Spacecraft (EQUULEUS) CubeSats are tucked into dispensers and installed in the Orion stage adapter. They are joining five other secondary payloads that were recently installed. These small satellites, known as CubeSats, will conduct a variety of science experiments and technology demonstrations. The CubeSats will deploy after the Orion spacecraft separates from SLS.
Three additional CubeSats that will ride aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for the Artemis I mission are installed in the rocket's Orion stage adapter that will deploy them toward their deep space destinations. The Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper (LunaH-Map), the CubeSat to Study Solar Particles (CuSP) spacecraft, and LunIR were integrated with their dispensers and installed on the Orion stage adapter along with several other small satellites for the first flight of SLS and Orion.
The Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is part of the agency's Artemis program. Without a Moon travel guide, VIPER's mission planners are creating new high resolution, digital elevation maps of the lunar surface.
Lockheed Martin opened its Spacecraft Test, Assembly and Resource (STAR) Center today. The STAR Center features business and digital transformation innovations that will expand manufacturing, assembly and testing capacity for NASA's Orion spacecraft program and ultimately, future space exploration. The addition of the STAR Center provides much-needed space for the new production phase of Orion, allowing future Orion spacecraft - starting with the Artemis III mission - to be built faster.
NASA's Near-Earth Asteroid Scout is tucked away safely inside the agency's powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA's Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) and prime launch processing contractor Jacobs hoisted the in-space stage for the Artemis 1 Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle into High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and placed it on top of the stack, that is resting on Mobile Launcher-1, on July 6. Stacking of the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) comes a week after the interstage Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter (LVSA) was securely mated to the SLS Core Stage below.
The Artemis I mission reached another milestone this week inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. On July 5, teams with Exploration Ground Systems and contractor Jacobs stacked the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
Agency Administrator Bill Nelson outlined the agency's plans during a House committee meeting, saying "There needs to be a landing each year for a dozen years." He said the $2.9 billion contract awarded to SpaceX for the Artemis program marked the beginning of what would be a series of ambitious projects to return often to the moon. The committee hearing was on NASA's 2022 budget request for $24.8 billion, a 6.6% increase over its 2021 budget.
Workers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida have stacked the launch vehicle stage adapter atop the Space Launch System rocket's core stage inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).
When NASA's Orion spacecraft launches aboard the powerful Space Launch System rocket for the spacecraft's first mission around the Moon later this year, a suited manikin will be aboard outfitted with sensors to provide data on what crew members may experience in flight. As part of the uncrewed Artemis I flight test, NASA is seeking to learn how best to protect astronauts for Artemis II, the first mission with crew.
The core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for NASA's Artemis I mission has been placed on the mobile launcher in between the twin solid rocket boosters inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The boosters attach at the engine and intertank sections of the core stage. Serving as the backbone of the rocket, the core stage supports the weight of the payload, upper stage, and crew vehicle, as well as carrying the thrust of its four engines and two five-segment solid rocket boosters.
New Zealand has joined a growing list of countries to sign the Artemis Accords. Dr. Peter Crabtree, head of the New Zealand Space Agency, signed the document during a ceremony May 31 in Wellington. New Zealand is the second nation to sign the Artemis Accords under the Biden-Harris Administration, following the Republic of Korea's signature May 24.
NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) team fully stacked three hardware elements together May 24 to form the top of the rocket's core stage for the Artemis II mission. NASA and core stage prime contractor Boeing connected the forward skirt with the liquid oxygen tank and intertank flight hardware inside an assembly area at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Teams had previously stacked the liquid oxygen tank and intertank on April 28. The joining of the three structures together is the first major assembly of core stage hardware for Artemis II, the first crewed Artemis mission and second flight of the SLS rocket. Next, technicians will work to complete outfitting and integrating the systems within the upper structure.
The Republic of Korea has become the 10th country to sign the Artemis Accords, which establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations participating in NASA's 21st century lunar exploration plans. Minister of Science and ICT Lim Hyesook signed the Artemis Accords for the country during a ceremony held May 24 in Seoul. South Korea, whose official name is the Republic of Korea, joins Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, and the United States, and is the first nation to sign the Accords under the Biden Administration.
The companies hope the electric vehicle will be used by NASA's Artemis program.
Technicians at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans stacked two of three hardware elements for NASA's Space Launch System rocket in an assembly area in the facility on April 28. Crews connected the liquid oxygen tank flight hardware with the intertank. Later, they will add the forward skirt to form the upper portion of the core stage that will help power Artemis II, the first crewed mission of NASA's Artemis Program and second flight of the SLS rocket. Crews moved the intertank to the assembly and stacking area in March, and then moved the liquid oxygen tank to the same area. The joining of the three structures together is the first major assembly of hardware for the Artemis II core stage. When completed, the upper part of the stage will stand 66 feet tall - just a fraction of the entire core stage. The fully-assembled, 212-foot-tall rocket stage consists of five hardware elements. Together, the core stage and its four RS-25 engines will provide more than 2 million pounds of thrust to help send Artemis II astronauts beyond Earth's orbit to lunar orbit. The liquid oxygen tank is one of two giant liquid propellant tanks on the core stage. It will hold 196,000 gallons of liquid oxygen cooled to minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Senate will take up the United States Innovation and Competition Act today. It incorporates the 2021 NASA Authorization Act approved by the Senate Commerce Committee last week, but one of the most controversial provisions was modified and now provides a level of protection for the contract awarded to SpaceX for the Artemis program's Human Landing System (HLS). It also extends the deadline for NASA to comply with a requirement that it choose a second HLS contractor.
South Korea is in last-minute negotiations with the United States to join NASA's Artemis program, a news outlet here reported May 18, citing government sources.
Officials and experts alike have often lamented NASA's position as an agency prone to turbulence when new presidential administrations take charge, especially since its most significant objectives can take decades to materialize and require long-term planning. President Biden's nomination of former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and his unanimous confirmation earlier this month, however, appear to have brought some consistency to the agency's outlook.
US senator Maria Cantwell has added an amendment to the Endless Frontier Act that could impose significant restrictions on NASA and its plans to return to the Moon. The amendment was spurred by NASA's decision in April to select SpaceX as its sole provider of a human landing system for the Artemis Program. This legislation comes as Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos have been urging Congress to add $10 billion to NASA's budget - enough money to fully fund the development of a second Human Landing System.
NASA's iconic worm logo has been added to the outward-facing wall of Orion's crew module adapter (CMA) inside the Multi-Payload Processing Facility (MPPF) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Later this year, NASA plans to launch a CubeSat to test a special orbit around the Moon to verify its characteristics in advance of sending the Lunar Gateway there as early as 2024. The 12-unit CubeSat is called "Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment," or CAPSTONE, and it is spacecraft designed to test the calculated orbital stability of a "near-rectilinear halo orbit" for the Lunar Gateway outpost, which is expected to be part of NASA's Artemis program.
Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, a former astronaut and longtime proponent of Florida's role in the spaceflight industry, will become NASA's next associate administrator. Cabana will fill the agency's No. 3 role starting Monday, May 17. He will replace Steve Jurczyk, who has served - including as acting administrator after Jim Bridenstine's departure in January - for more than 30 years.
NASA's Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) program is looking at a wide range of forecasts for when they can complete testing necessary to be ready to launch Artemis 1.
Approximately six months of work is anticipated to finish assembly and complete a long series of tests and checkouts of SLS and the Orion spacecraft it will send to the Moon, but current forecasts of this first-time integration work estimate closer to ten months to complete the necessary operations. After the vehicle is put together, weeks and weeks of testing to make sure SLS and Orion are properly talking to each other, as well as the EGS ground infrastructure, will follow.
Sen. Bill Nelson was sworn in as the 14th NASA administrator on May 3, 2021, tasked with carrying out the Biden-Harris administration's vision for the agency.
NASA is taking steps to establish a regular cadence of crewed missions to the surface of the Moon as part of the Artemis program. The agency recently made a selection for a crewed demonstration to land the next American astronauts on the lunar surface, and is now looking to industry again, this time for long-term lunar landing services for crews beginning in the late 2020s.
In a Request for Information (RFI) issued April 28, NASA asked U.S. companies to indicate their interest in providing Artemis astronaut transit services from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon. In particular, the agency is seeking input on factors that would motivate them to bid on a future Lunar Exploration Transportation Services (LETS) contract. NASA will use LETS to buy routine astronaut transportation services throughout the Artemis program.
Although NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to work on a Starship-based lunar landing system two weeks ago, both companies that lost out on the deal have filed protests with the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Now NASA says that while the challenges from Dynetics and Jeff Bezos-backed Blue Origin are reviewed, SpaceX will have to halt any work it's doing.
The final piece of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will send NASA's Artemis I mission to the Moon has arrived at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The SLS Program delivered the core stage rocket to the center's Launch Complex 39 turn basin wharf after completing a successful series of Green Run tests at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The 212-foot-tall core stage, which is the largest rocket stage NASA has ever built, completed its voyage aboard the agency's Pegasus barge on April 27. After a 900-mile journey, teams aboard the barge, which was modified to support SLS's weight and length, safely piloted the specialized self-sustaining vessel to the spaceport.
"With the delivery of the SLS core stage for Artemis I, we have all the parts of the rocket at Kennedy for the first Artemis mission," said John Honeycutt, the SLS program manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, "Our team looks forward to working with the Exploration Ground Systems team as all these huge pieces come together to build America's Moon rocket".
Over a week ago, NASA awarded Elon Musk's SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build a lunar lander for its upcoming Artemis Moon project. In deciding on SpaceX, NASA passed over defense contractor Dynetics and Blue Origin. The latter is now challenging the decision. In a protest filed with the federal Government Accountability Office (via The New York Times), Jeff's Bezos' rocket company claims NASA improperly awarded the contract to its rival.
"NASA has executed a flawed acquisition for the Human Landing System program and moved the goalposts at the last minute. In NASA's own words, it has made a 'high risk' selection," a spokesperson for Blue Origin told Engadget. "Their decision eliminates opportunities for competition, significantly narrows the supply base, and not only delays, but also endangers America's return to the Moon."
Long-time Democratic space politician Bill Nelson expressed support for the Artemis program during a televised three-hour hearing considering his nomination as NASA administrator Wednesday (April 21). The 78-year-old Nelson - who made space issues a cornerstone issue in his decades representing Florida in the House and Senate - said NASA is still technically committed to a 2024 deadline for landing people on the moon under the Artemis program, albeit "with the sobering reality that space is hard." He also noted that he was not yet allowed to talk to the agency in detail about that deadline, given that his nomination is still pending.
The first core stage of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket departs Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, following completion of the Green Run series of tests of its design and systems. The stage now is in route to the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, its final stop prior to NASA's launch of the Artemis I mission around the Moon. At Kennedy, the core stage will be integrated with the rest of the SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft in preparation for launch.
"I think that can be done," Musk said Friday, speaking after SpaceX launched the Crew-2 mission to orbit for a trip to the International Space Station."We're going to aim for sooner than that, but I think this is actually doable," he added. "We're building up a lot of rockets, and probably [will] smash a bunch of them, but I think it will happen."
Technicians and engineers continue to make progress manufacturing core stages that will help power NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for its second and third flights. NASA and Boeing, the lead contractor for the core stage, are in the process of conducting one of the biggest Artemis II milestones: assembling the top half of the core stage.
IV&V's Artemis program is continuing to put in efforts that accomplish what the mission needs today and what it will lead to in days and years to come, according to IV&V project leadership. "NASA will gain critical knowledge and experience from Moon exploration activities which will enable future exploration to Mars or beyond," he said. "When doing things that have never been done before with humans in such harsh and different environments, you must explore and learn, adjust and advance, so you can explore further the next time".
Crews at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, worked April 19-20 to remove the first flight core stage of the agency's Space Launch System rocket from the B-2 Test Stand in preparation for its transport to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Operations required crews to lift the core stage from its vertical placement in the stand and lower it to a horizontal position on the B-2 Test Stand tarmac. The stage now will be loaded on NASA's Pegasus barge for transport to Kennedy, where it will be prepared for launch of the Artemis I mission. Removal of the largest rocket stage ever built by NASA followed completion of a series of eight Green Run tests over the past year.
Investing in Starship will help NASA return to the Moon, but it will also do something more consequential. Starship is a Mars ship. By choosing Starship for the Moon, NASA is investing in the Starship program itself, providing SpaceX with a cash infusion for the same technology and systems it needs to get to the Red Planet'a true 'Moon-to-Mars' strategy if there ever was one.
In a request for information (RFI) published April 14, NASA revealed that it is looking for feedback from the space sector on its newly updated strategy to work with commercial partners in space. In this new strategy, NASA is looking to collaborate more with commercial partners in developing, building and maintaining technology for spacewalks, or extravehicular activities (EVAs), including spacesuits, the agency said in a statement.
After NASA taps SpaceX's Starship for first Artemis landings, agency looks to on-ramp future vehicles[nasaspaceflight.com - April 20, 2021]
In contrast to NASA's stated wish for multiple Human Landing Systems, only one design was selected for an initial uncrewed demonstration and the first crewed landing, due to significant budget constraints. The offerings from Blue Origin, Dynetics, and other companies not previously studied for HLS, may thus continue development in hopes of being on-ramped for future recurring missions to the surface of the moon.
NASA has selected SpaceX to continue development of the first commercial human lander that will safely carry the next two American astronauts to the lunar surface. At least one of those astronauts will make history as the first woman on the Moon. Another goal of the Artemis program includes landing the first person of color on the lunar surface.
The agency's powerful Space Launch System rocket will launch four astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft for their multi-day journey to lunar orbit. There, two crew members will transfer to the SpaceX human landing system (HLS) for the final leg of their journey to the surface of the Moon. After approximately a week exploring the surface, they will board the lander for their short trip back to orbit where they will return to Orion and their colleagues before heading back to Earth.
The firm-fixed price, milestone-based contract total award value is $2.89 billion.
"With this award, NASA and our partners will complete the first crewed demonstration mission to the surface of the Moon in the 21st century as the agency takes a step forward for women's equality and long-term deep space exploration," said Kathy Lueders, NASA's associate administrator for Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate. "This critical step puts humanity on a path to sustainable lunar exploration and keeps our eyes on missions farther into the solar system, including Mars."
Today, NASA announced they have selected Starship to land the first astronauts on the lunar surface since the Apollo program. We are humbled to help NASA usher in a new era of human space exploration.
NASA's Gateway lunar outpost will address one of the biggest concerns for space travel beyond Earth's orbit by measuring radiation levels within the spacecraft with a sophisticated collection of radiation detectors.
When NASA's Orion spacecraft is nearing its return to Earth after its Artemis I mission to the Moon, it will attempt the first skip entry for a human spacecraft - a maneuver designed to pinpoint its landing spot in the Pacific Ocean. During this skip entry, Orion will dip into the upper part of Earth's atmosphere and use that atmosphere, along with the lift of the capsule, to skip back out of the atmosphere, then reenter for final descent under parachutes and splashdown. It's a little like skipping a rock across the water in a river or lake.
The Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) were adapted largely as-is to the higher SLS operating requirements. SLS is an expendable vehicle and new engine builds will be needed by the program, first as spares and then for flight beginning with the fifth SLS launch.
The new spacecraft command and control system (SCCS) is now certified for use on Artemis I. The system is the electronic hub where information traveling to and from the SLS core stage, the rocket's Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), Orion, ground systems, and the operators inside the firing room intersect. During loading and launch, the software will process up to 575,000 changes per second. All this information is integrated into the displays shown on consoles throughout Firing Room 1 and Firing Room 2 inside Kennedy's Launch Control Center, enabling Operators to make informed decisions on how to continue the activity in progress.
The rocket engine with one of the most storied histories in spaceflight, the RS-25, is returning to space for a second act - this time to send humans on the Artemis missions to explore the Moon..
Space communications and navigation engineers at NASA are evaluating the navigation needs for the Artemis program, including identifying the precision navigation capabilities needed to establish the first sustained presence on the lunar surface.
Once the troublesome element of the Constellation (now Artemis) Program, three Orion spacecraft are in various stages of preparation for flight, two of which now already reside at their Kennedy Space Center launch site. With the Artemis 3 Orion - set to depart Earth with the crew that will step foot on the surface of the Moon - now being constructed at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF), Orion's multi-billion dollar journey to transporting humans into deep space is back on track.
With the Biden administration having endorsed the Trump-era Artemis program, it looks like two credible, rival return-to-the-moon programs are now ongoing. Since one of those programs is run by two authoritarian nations and the other is led by NASA and consists of what many would consider the civilized world, the very definition of a race to the moon has developed, without fanfare, without brave speeches throwing down gauntlets. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
Technicians at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, complete the weld to join the two major parts of the launch vehicle stage adapter (LVSA) for NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The adapter, a cone-shaped piece of hardware that connects the rocket's upper and lower stages, will fly on Artemis II, the first crewed mission of NASA's Artemis program.
Success! Engines fired for 499.6 seconds.
Next stop... the Moon.
Artemis is part of the steppingstone approach that will build on research conducted in ground analogs and on the International Space Station to help NASA identify ways to keep astronauts safe, healthy, and productive during future missions to Mars.
A mockup analog of the Griffin lander that will bring NASA's water-hunting Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the surface of the Moon recently arrived at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
To prepare for crucial docking and undocking operations in lunar orbit, astronauts and Orion engineers have begun the first series of human-in-the-loop testing at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
NASA is targeting Thursday, March 18 for the second hot fire of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket's core stage at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
NASA's water-hunting lunar robot now has a workspace prepped and ready at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston, where it will be built for its upcoming mission to the Moon. The Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, has a new 1,000-plus square-foot clean room, called the Surface Segment Integration and Test Facility, where engineers will assemble and outfit the rover.
NASA's new water-hunting mission to the Moon, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, has received agency-level approval to move from formulation into implementation of the final design of the rover. This puts the mission one step closer to launching to the Moon's South Pole in late 2023.
NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency's Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), the foundational elements of the Gateway. As the first long-term orbiting outpost around the Moon, the Gateway is critical to supporting sustainable astronauts missions under the agency's Artemis program.
NASA is working on various science instruments and technology experiments from the agency that will operate on the Moon once American companies on Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts deliver them to the lunar surface. Through CLPS flights, NASA is buying a complete commercial robotic lunar delivery service and does not provide launch services, own the lander or lead landing operations.
Scientists and engineers are helping NASA determine the precise location of the Artemis Base Camp concept. Among the many things NASA must take into account in choosing a specific location are two key features: The site must bask in near continuous sunlight to power the base and moderate extreme temperature swings, and it must offer easy access to areas of complete darkness that hold water ice.
The engines shut-down after 63-seconds during the gimbal test sequence of the Green Run Hot Fire Test.
NASA statement released on Jan 19:
"During gimballing, the hydraulic system associated with the core stage's power unit for Engine 2, also known as engine E2056, exceeded the pre-set test limits that had been established. As they were programmed to do, the flight computers automatically ended the test. The specific logic that stopped the test is unique to the ground test when the core stage is mounted in the B-2 test stand at Stennis. If this scenario occurred during a flight, the rocket would have continued to fly using the remaining CAPUs to power the thrust vector control systems for the engines."
Read the full NASA statement
NASA fired up the core stage of its massive new Space Launch System (SLS) on Saturday (Jan. 16) in a critical test that ended prematurely when the booster's engines shut down earlier than planned. "Not everything went according to script today," NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said late Saturday after the test. "But we got a lot of great data, a lot of great information."
The Orion spacecraft for NASA's Artemis I mission is taking one more step closer to its flight to the Moon. On Jan. 14, the spacecraft was lifted out of the stand in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida where engineers have meticulously outfitted it with thousands of components and tested its systems and subsystems to ensure it can accomplish its mission. With assembly complete, teams are moving it to its next facility for fueling and officially transferring the spacecraft to NASA's Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) team responsible for processing Orion for its launch later this year.
NASA has selected an initial team of astronauts - the Artemis Team - to help pave the way for our next human missions on and around the Moon. The Artemis program includes sending the first woman and next man to walk on the lunar surface. Let's meet the team!
Nasa has announced 18 astronauts who will travel to the Moon under the agency's Artemis program.
Vice President Mike Pence finished his term leading the National Space Council at the council's eighth meeting, held today (Dec. 9) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, by introducing 18 NASA astronauts who make up the heart of the Artemis crews - assuming the incoming administration led by President-elect Joe Biden builds on NASA's existing Artemis program.
The Blue Origin-led National Team submitted its Option A proposal to land the first woman and next man on the Moon in partnership with NASA. Blue Origin leads the HLS National Team, which includes Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper. Together, these partners guided Apollo, established routine orbit cargo transfer, developed today's only crewed lunar spaceship, and pioneered planetary precision landing with liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen vehicles.
[ Youtube: blueoriginchannel]
President Donald Trump released a new national space policy Wednesday (Dec. 9), laying out the fundamental principles of, and chief priorities for, the United States' diverse space activities going forward.
NASA powered up the core stage of its new Space Launch System on Saturday (Dec. 5), kicking off the penultimate "green run" test of its next-generation megarocket, according to agency officials.
NASA Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) and prime test and operations contractor (TOSC) Jacobs started assembling the Artemis 1 vehicle on its Mobile Launcher this week in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.
Eight rocket motor segments for the first flight of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) are lined up in preparation for stacking at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Members of the media are invited to capture images of the Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters as motor segments are transported, processed and stacked in preparation for the Artemis I launch in 2021.
Engineers from NASA's Exploration Ground Systems and contractor Jacobs recently took their seats at consoles in Kennedy's Firing Room 1. During a simulated launch of Artemis I, they tackled any challenges that arose from the tanking process and monitored the system's performance.
The Launch Ascent and Vehicle Aerodynamics, or LAVA, team at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, uses computer simulations to accurately understand how liquid and gases flowing during launch can cause various kinds of waves.
For Artemis astronauts traveling on missions to the Moon, two space weather instrument suites, NASA's HERMES and ESA's ERSA, will provide an early forecast. Weather in this case means energized, subatomic particles and electromagnetic fields hurtling through the solar system.
NASA has said it will be "hard-pressed to land astronauts on the moon by the end of 2024". The assessment by the agency's office of inspector general comes in a report dated 12 November and titled 2020 Report on Nasa's Top Management and Performance Challenges.
Little is known of what Biden believes about NASA and its role in promoting space exploration. Because the United States is in for a period of divided government, Biden will not be able to make huge changes at NASA because such will have to pass muster in the Republican Senate. He will not be able to cancel the Artemis program, even if he wants to. Artemis enjoys healthy support on both sides of the aisle.
Ukraine is the ninth country that has signed the NASA Artemis Accords, the Ukrainian national space agency announced on its website, without giving further details.
The Artemis Accords - NASA guidelines supposedly designed to regulate global cooperation on the moon - may serve to circumvent preexisting international treaties.
A Senate appropriations bill would provide NASA with only a small fraction of the funding it requested for lunar lander development, putting any chance of returning humans to the moon by 2024 in jeopardy.
Donald Trump set bold goals for space exploration during his time in office - from crewed missions to the Moon and Mars to a Space Force. By contrast, his successor Joe Biden has been relatively quiet on space policy. So how is space exploration likely to change going forward.
Joe Biden just announced his NASA transition team. Here's what space policy might look like under the new administration.[businessinsider.com.au, AU - November 11, 2020]
Ellen Stofan, a former NASA chief scientist, will chair the team. Biden will likely push back the timeline of NASA's Artemis moon mission, extend funding for the International Space Station, and direct more resources back to climate science.
NASA is going to get some funding for landers, just not the full amount it asked for
Bridenstine said in an interview with Aviation Week that the Biden administration would need a NASA chief who was "trusted" by the incoming president, adding that he was not that person.
With five robotic flights to the Moon already booked through 2023, and a sixth award expected soon, NASA is seeking suites of new science investigations and technology experiments for future commercial lunar deliveries as part of the Artemis program.
The first step to ensuring property rights in outer space. With the release of the full text, space enthusiasts have good reason for optimism. The Artemis Accords are an ambitious step along the path to space exploration and development. They have major implications for the legal rules governing the use and transfer of celestial resources.
The agency has released an Announcement for Proposals calling for submissions of potential partnerships to visually bring the public along for the ride in new ways, starting as early as a trip around the Moon with astronauts on the Artemis II mission, targeted for 2023. Proposals are due by Dec. 11, 2020.
After the signature of eight countries to the Artemis Accords, the position of the European Space Agency ESA was discussed a lot. spacewatch.global Editor-in-Chief Markus Payer used the opportunity to talk with Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe Schrogl is Vice Chair of the European Coordination Committee for the ISS Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA-CC)
NASA's new rocket would be the most powerful ever. But it's the software that has some officials worried.[washingtonpost.com - October 31, 2020]
At an ASAP meeting last month, Paul Hill, a member of the panel and a former flight and mission operations director at the agency, said the "panel has great concern about the end-to-end integrated test capability and plans, especially for flight software."
Technicians with the lead contractor for Orion, Lockheed Martin, adhered the NASA insignia, known as the 'meatball' and an American Flag to the back shell of the spacecraft's crew module for Artemis I. Final assemblies are well underway for Orion as teams progress toward next year's launch.
To give astronauts a place to live and work on the Moon, the agency's Artemis Base Camp concept includes a modern lunar cabin, a rover and even a mobile home. Early missions will include short surface stays, but as the base camp evolves, the goal is to allow crew to stay at the lunar surface for up to two months at a time.
NASA is choosing between human missions to the moon and a robotic mission to Jupiter's icy moon Europa as the agency manages its limited supply of megarockets in the coming years.
NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) have finalized an agreement to collaborate on the Artemis Gateway. This agreement is an important element in a broad effort by the United States to engage international partners in sustainable lunar exploration and to demonstrate technologies necessary for a future human mission to Mars. The agreement... marks NASA's first formal commitment to launch international crew members to the lunar vicinity as part of NASA's Artemis missions.
NASA is progressing through the Green Run test series for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at the agency's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and has completed six of the eight tests.
A collaborative agreement was finalized between NASA and the European Space Agency on Tuesday, and the two agencies will work together on the Artemis Gateway lunar outpost. This is also NASA's first formal agreement to launch international crew members to the moon during the Artemis missions, according to the agency.
While the amount of water detected by the airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is small, the discovery will add impetus to the agency's plans to launch rovers and astronauts to the moon under the agency's Artemis program. The program's goal, in part, is to scout out the availability of ice in shadowed craters near the moon's south pole to support a sustained human presence on the lunar surface before eventual flights to Mars.
NASA's mobile launcher that will carry the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft for Artemis I is on the road again. The Exploration Ground Systems and Jacobs teams rolled the mobile launcher, atop crawler-transporter 2, out of the Vehicle Assembly Building for its slow trek to Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Oct. 20.
The head of the Russian space agency said this week that the the Gateway mini-space station NASA plans to build around the moon is "too U.S.-centric" and added that Russia unlikely to significantly contribute to the project.
The Artemis I mission will be an uncrewed flight test of the Orion spacecraft that places a human-rated crew vehicle in lunar orbit for the first time since the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 70s. The mission will showcase the capabilities of both Orion and the Space Launch System (SLS).Artemis I will demonstrate NASA's networks' comprehensive services for journeys to lunar orbit. The mission requires all three of NASA's space communications and navigation networks to work in tandem, providing different communications and tracking service levels as Orion leaves Earth, orbits the Moon, and returns safely home.
Engineers at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, completed a simulated launch countdown sequence on Oct. 5 for the sixth test of the eight-part core stage Green Run test series for NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
Following a series of critical contract awards and hardware milestones, NASA has shared an update on its Artemis program, including the latest Phase 1 plans to land the first woman and the next man on the surface of the Moon in 2024. (Link: https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/artemis_plan-20200921.pdf)
Technicians with NASA's Exploration Ground Systems rehearse booster stacking operations inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday, Sept.14, in preparation for the Artemis I launch.
NASA has selected Catherine Koerner as manager of the agency's Orion Program. In this role, she will be responsible for the development and operations of NASA's newest spacecraft.
Teams from NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) and prime contractor Northrop Grumman successfully completed the Flight Support Booster-1 (FSB-1) ground test at Northrop Grumman's test facility in Promontory, Utah.
NASA's new moon rocket finished a full-scale flight support booster (FSB) test Wednesday (Sept. 2) as the agency gets its Space Launch System (SLS) ready to fly astronauts one day.
The pressurized rover is expected to launch in the late 2020s.
SpaceX has secured a contract to act as the launch partner for Masten Space Systems, one of the companies awarded a NASA launch contract under that agency's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Masten's first lunar mission is set to take pace 2022 if all goes to plan, and will take the company's XL-1 lunar lander to the south pole of the Moon with NASA payloads including scientific experimentation instruments on board, as well as cargo from commercial passengers.
Epps is one of 16 active female astronauts who may one day land on the moon with NASA's Artemis program.
The Blue Origin National Team of four US aerospace companies has delivered a full-scale engineering mockup of their proposed human lunar lander. The Artemis Human Landing System (HLS) lander has been set up in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF), NASA Johnson Space Center's (JSC) iconic Building 9, said Blue Origin in an Aug. 20 statement.
Despite a weather-related pause in testing work, NASA still hopes to complete the Green Run test of the Space Launch System core stage in October, keeping its first launch on track for late next year.
The competition to build the next spacecraft to deliver astronauts to the moon is getting serious. Jeff Bezos' rocket company Blue Origin, on Thursday delivered a 40-foot tall mock-up lander to the space agency for testing.
A private team led by Jeff Bezos' spaceflight company Blue Origin has delivered a mock-up of its crewed moon lander to NASA for testing.
NASA's Artemis program is aiming for the Moon, yet the space between us is ripe with possibilities for helping mature the technologies we will need to get there, stay there, and venture beyond to Mars.
As NASA's Orion spacecraft approaches the Moon on the Artemis III mission to put the first woman and next man on the lunar surface, the crew will get a glimpse through the spacecraft's windows.
Inside the Launch Control Center's Firing Room 1 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, members of the Artemis I launch team rehearse the procedures for fueling the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with super cold propellants, or cryogenics, on Aug. 18, 2020.
NASA has invited applications from university-level engineering students to participate in developing a method to harvest water on the Moon and Mars.
This does not bode well for keeping to the 2024 landing goal.
Altius Space Machines, Inc. (Altius), was selected as a subcontractor to Dynetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, to support the development of a human landing system for NASA's Artemis program.
A new study led by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, shows that exhaust from a mid-sized lunar lander can quickly spread around the Moon and potentially contaminate scientifically vital ices at the lunar poles.
Technicians at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida are working to install an adapter that will connect the Orion spacecraft to its rocket for the Artemis I mission around the Moon.
Voyager Subsidiary, Altius Space Machines, Inc. to support on-orbit servicing for the Dynetics Human Landing System[prnewswire.com - August 12, 2020]
Altius' decade of space robotics expertise to propel development of new human landing system for NASA's Artemis Program.
Sierra Nevada Corp.is continuing to advance its development of the company's Large Inflatable Fabric Environment (LIFE) Habitat under Phase 3 of NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) Appendix A habitat program. In Phase 3, NASA has asked companies to focus on habitat design concepts that could be used on the lunar surface or as a Mars transportation habitat to test at the lunar Gateway.
The cone-shaped interstage connector was moved into the Vehicle Assembly Building, where NASA's Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) program and prime Test and Operations Support Contractor - Jacobs - will now perform through fit checks while waiting for the SLS Core Stage to finish its Green Run test campaign at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
It just launched a rover to Mars and returned astronauts from the space station, but Congress recently said no to its latest budget request.
Call it a triumph of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine's relentless bipartisan approach to space policy.
As a precursor for Gateway, a Moon-orbiting outpost that is part of NASA's Artemis program, CAPSTONE will help reduce risk for future spacecraft by validating innovative navigation technologies and verifying the dynamics of this halo-shaped orbit.
The launch vehicle stage adapter made its way to Kennedy aboard NASA's Pegasus barge this week and was transported on Thursday into the Vehicle Assembly Building.
The second to last piece of hardware for the Artemis I test flight around the Moon has arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The launch vehicle stage adapter (LVSA) connects the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to the upper stage, called the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, and also helps protect the RL10 engine housed in the upper stage which will power the Orion spacecraft on its journey to the Moon.
While the first flight LVSA unit was placed on NASA's Pegasus barge and towed through U.S. waterways to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, work to weld the second LVSA structure is well underway at MSFC. Plans are to have the second unit ready for the Artemis 2 vehicle by mid-2022 and NASA has also placed orders for the long-lead raw materials necessary to build fabrication of a third LVSA.
The House Appropriations Committee released the CJS spending bill on July 07, which provides $22.6 billion for NASA. "These programs are being rushed to meet a politically motivated timeline to again place humans on the Moon's lunar surface in a little over four years," the report accompanying the spending bill said of NASA's exploration programs.
The Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden appears to be in favour of continuing to support the NASA Artemis program. An 80-page draft of the Democratic Party's 2020 platform was distributed to party officials for review this week. Although it does not outline an exhaustive proposed space policy, it does appear to suggest a Biden-led government would continue to support NASA's push to return US astronauts to the lunar surface.
"Scientific explorers and commercial pioneers need to get to the moon with diverse people, practices, and profit motivations.," argues Apollo astronaut Harrison Schmitt.
The spacecraft slated to transport astronauts to the moon for NASA's Artemis program is still mired in cost overruns and delays, the agency's inspector general said last week, yet its prime contractor has received "overly generous" award fees totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.
Japan provides a few major advantages in helping the US get back to the moon. In return, it will get its own chance to set foot on the lunar surface.
Russia's space agency has publicly stated it has no interest in participating in NASA's Artemis missions. Roscosmos is instead siding with China, partnering up for future space exploration efforts.
The adapter is the cone shaped piece that connects the rocket's core stage and interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS). Pegasus will transport the flight hardware to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida where it will be integrated with other parts of the rocket in preparation for launch.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said Tuesday he still expected support from Russia's space corporation in its Artemis moon program despite Moscow's space chief slamming the U.S.-led lunar effort.
NASA is looking for ways to leverage lunar resources to meet their astronauts' needs in a process known as In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) and has selected 10 proposals through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program to developed ISRU-related technologies.
NASA and Japan signed a Joint Exploration Declaration of Intent (JEDI) on July 9. The JEDI describes the plans for co-operation regarding the International Space Station and NASA's Artemis program, including Japanese contributions to Gateway and lunar surface exploration.
"We're trying to balance the interests of the science community, the interest of the human exploration community and the interest of the commercial community."
Prime test and operations contractor Jacobs will perform the final checkout and integration of all flight hardware for Nasa's Artemis I mission around the Moon.
NASA has selected four U.S. small businesses to mature a range of technologies for sustainable exploration of the Moon under the Artemis program.
Technicians at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently finished meticulously applying more than 180 blocks of ablative material to the heat shield for the Orion spacecraft set to carry astronauts around the Moon on Artemis II.
The House Appropriations Committee would like to keep NASA's budget at $22.63 billion, which matches the agency's current budget but is significantly less than the $25.2 billion proposed by President Donald Trump for fiscal year 2021.
A second Mobile Launcher (ML-2) for NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) is heading into its construction phase as Ground Support Equipment begins to arrive at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
Science Focus Podcast and full transcript.
NASA has released a video showcasing its own destruction of the SLS rocket. By intentionally pushing the rocket past its designed limits for strength, the space agency gets a better idea of just how durable it truly is.
Technicians at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center have moved panels for the Artemis II Orion stage adapter to a large robotic, welding machine. Three panels were built by AMRO Fabricating Corp. in California and shipped to Marshall where engineers and technicians are joining them using a sophisticated friction-stir welding process to form the Orion stage adapter.
The flight computers and avionics of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket's core stage for the Artemis I mission were powered on and have completed a thorough systems checkout in the second of eight tests in the Green Run test series at NASA's Stennis Space Center.
Last fall, NASA unveiled the new suits that Artemis astronauts will wear when they return to the Moon in 2024. NASA's new xEMU is the first ground-up suit made for exploring the lunar landscape, and it's design is getting an assist from artificial intelligence.
NASA has taken the next steps toward building Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters to support as many as six additional flights, for a total of up to nine Artemis missions.
Three companies are competing to build NASA's next-gen lunar lander.
The Canadian Space Agency who have provided robotic arms for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station, will now build the next-generation of robotic systems for going to the Moon, called Canadarm3.
Engineers completed testing on a duplicate of Orion called the Structural Test Article (STA), needed to verify the spacecraft is ready for Artemis I - its first uncrewed test flight..
On June 24, 2020, engineers completed the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket's structural testing campaign for the Artemis lunar missions by testing the liquid oxygen structural test article to find its point of failure.
Given the progress being made in the private sector, some question why commercial systems now being deployed in low Earth orbit should not be used for deep space, and some ask why the national systems are needed at all. The answers are clear: One technical, the other geopolitical.
We ask Gary Martin, Vice President for North American operations for the International Space University, about how private enterprise is changing space exploration.
NASA is studying the addition of an Orion rendezvous demonstration to the Artemis 2 test flight to reduce overall mission risks to the subsequent Artemis 3 lunar landing from first-time operations.
A Cool Science Radio interview with Dr. Jacob Bleacher, who is the Chief Exploration Scientist of Advanced Exploration Systems, a division of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
NASA's Tournament Labs and Human Landing System Program has partnered with a Kickstarter-like platform called HeroX to sponsor a competition to design a space toilet that will be used on the moon.
Last year, NASA set itself an ambitious goal: Send astronauts to walk on the moon in 2024. Now, the agency is busy planning what astronauts will do during those excursions. In a series of presentations made last month, NASA personnel described some of the details of the agency's vision for a new era of moonwalks.
Over the next few years, NASA will dispatch an array of spacecraft to quench its thirst for more water-ice data, and to sustain its quest for an Artemis Base Camp to support wide-ranging human lunar exploration.
NASA's Space Launch System Program is concluding its structural qualification test series with one upcoming final test that will push the design for the rocket's liquid oxygen tank to its limits at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Fueled segments of the solid rocket boosters that will lift off on the first flight of NASA's Space Launch System have arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but officials will hold off on stacking the boosters until the SLS core stage completes a crucial test-firing later this year.
NASA's selection of Kathy Lueders to become the new associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate has been met with universal praise. Even former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, who is on record as wanting to cancel the Artemis return to the moon program, was quite effusive.
NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) Program is concluding its structural qualification test series with one upcoming final test that will push the design for the rocket's liquid oxygen tank to its limits at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Two university teams have taken top honors in NASA's 2020 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts - Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) competition, which culminated in a virtual forum June 16-18.
NASA's Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) program is stepping into the launch processing flow for the Artemis 1 mission after taking delivery of Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) hardware for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will start the uncrewed lunar orbit mission next year.
"We're going to try, right?" Kathy Lueders, NASA's newly appointed head of human spaceflight operations, said Thursday that without a crystal ball, she could not give a yes-or-no answer when asked whether she believes NASA can put astronauts back on the moon by the end of 2024 as called for by the Trump administration.
NASA's massive SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft recently arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida after a 10-day, cross-country journey from Northrop Grumman's facility in Promontory, Utah. And it arrived in style on the storied NASA Railroad.
The rocket booster segments that will help power NASA's first Artemis flight test mission around the Moon arrived at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday for launch preparations.
Before NASA gets around to landing the first woman on the moon, it has partnered up with several commercial companies to send rovers and probes to the lunar surface. One of them is 2023 mission to deliver NASA's water-hunting rover called VIPER.
NASA's return to the moon has to go through Utah first, where NASA contractor Northrop Grumman has been working on the two solid rocket boosters to be paired with the core stage of the SLS. Specialized transports will move each of 10 solid rocket motor segments from the test facility in Promontory, Utah, before a cross-country journey by train to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Former high-ranking NASA official Doug Loverro, is being investigated over allegedly giving improper guidance to Boeing Co. in relation to an agency competition for one of NASA's moon landing contracts, the Wall Street Journal reported.
NASA has awarded Northrop Grumman $187 million to design the habitat module for the space agency's lunar Gateway, a planned moon-orbiting space station for astronauts. The money will fund the module's design through a key review by the end of 2020.
By Dr. Deganit Paikowsky.
NASA has selected three U.S. companies to design and develop human landing systems (HLS) for the agency's Artemis program, one of which will land the first woman and next man on the surface of the Moon by 2024. NASA is on track for sustainable human exploration of the Moon for the first time in history.
It's official: when astronauts land on the Moon in 2024 they will get there with help from the European Service Module. The European Space Agency signed a contract with Airbus to build the third European Service Module for NASA's Orion spacecraft that will ferry the next astronauts to land on the Moon.
NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center has released a solicitation for additional providers to its Flight and Payload Integration Services contract for the Flight Opportunities program.
NASA is resuming work on a series of tests to bring the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage to life for the first time, allowing engineers to evaluate the new complex stage that will launch the Artemis I lunar mission.
The U.S. space agency on Friday unveiled the "Artemis Accords," a set of principles it seeks to use as the basis of bilateral agreements with other countries. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine explained in a briefing that the intention of the accords is to provide a basis for what other nations would agree to when joining NASA's Artemis program, which aims return NASA astronauts to the lunar surface in four years.
NASA is making several changes to its plans to return humans to the surface of the moon by 2024, including launching the first two elements of the lunar Gateway together and adding a critical demonstration to the first crewed Orion flight.
NASA has ordered 18 more rocket engines for its new Space Launch System megarocket for future Artemis moon missions. The new order, valued at $1.79 billion, calls for the California-based aerospace company Aerojet Rocketdyne to provide 18 RS-25 engines to power future SLS rockets. The agreement builds upon an existing deal between NASA and Aerojet for six SLS engines. This new order boosts the final contract's value to about $3.5 billion through 2029, NASA officials said.
As we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, overcoming the immediate crisis is the top priority. Recovery will require thoughtful planning, investment, and patience. At the same time, it is important that we look beyond the crisis toward grand efforts that push boundaries and fuel humanity's aspirations. That is why we continue to work on Artemis, the USA's program to send humans forward to the Moon and on to Mars.
SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics will spend the next 10 months developing their systems.
The National Space Society commends NASA for its updated Artemis mission plan for returning humans to the Moon. The new roadmap, called "NASA's Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development," was released on April 2.
The new plan comes from a 13-page report submitted on April 2 to the National Space Council, an advisory group to President Donald Trump chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. Much of the report, titled "NASA's Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development," summarizes the vision NASA has laid out for justifying and accomplishing the 2024 moon landing. But the report also looks farther out to focus on what a long-term presence on the moon and in lunar orbit would permit the U.S. to accomplish.
NASA is forging ahead with its Artemis program to land humans on the moon by 2024, and has just offered its first plan - titled "NASA's Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development" - for what a U.S. lunar presence may look like after that milestone.
NASA may have just found the next man to walk on the moon - or the first woman to land on Mars - or someone who can float above the Earth and make repairs to the International Space Station..
NASA has completed the testing process meant to simulate performance in in-space conditions for its Orion crew spacecraft, developed by Lockheed Martin and designed to carry crew on the agency's Artemis missions. It reportedly 'aced' the tests according to NASA, which include thermal vacuum and electromagnetic interference performance checks.
The powerful SLS rocket being built for NASA's Artemis moon program will have cost more than $18 billion by the time it blasts off on its maiden flight in 2021. Already running two years behind schedule and some $2 billion over budget because of technical problems, changing requirements and contractor performance, potential delays for the rocket's second mission - the first to carry astronauts - could push the SLS program's cost to nearly $23 billion by 2023, the OIG reports.
Artemis 1, which will mark the first flight of the SLS and the second of Orion, is currently over a year away, pushing back the November 2020 launch time frame that was previously announced by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
The plan asks a lot of Boeing.
NASA's Artemis program is heralding a moon rush, and nobody - from SpaceX to Russia - wants to be left behind..
NASA has completed the giant rocket that will take US astronauts back to the Moon, the space agency's head announced Monday, pledging the mission would take place in 2024 despite being beset by delays.
Houston Matters producer Joshua Zinn takes us inside the Orion capsule to learn how NASA's next missions to the moon will eventually lead to Mars.
The agency that sent humans to the moon 50 years ago is offering $7 billion to take the first steps for a U.S. return to the lunar surface within five years.
The odds that NASA can accomplish its huge task in five years are looking longer and longer with each passing week.
The Northrop Grumman built attitude control motor (ACM) on Orion's launch abort system was successfully tested on August 22, at their facility in Elkton, Maryland. The 30-second trial by fire was the second to last test before it's qualified for human spaceflight on Artemis 2 -- the first mission with astronauts. During the static test, the ACM produced more than 7,000 pounds of thrust from eight valves, providing enough force to steer Orion and its crew to a safe distance.
NASA is building a system to send astronauts to the Moon for Artemis missions, and that includes tests to make sure the Orion spacecraft is prepared to safely carry crew on an alternate mission profile in the face of unexpected problems. That capability was most recently demonstrated with a successful, continuous 12-minute firing of Orion's propulsion system that simulated a possible alternate mission scenario.
Here's the timeline for the Artemis program, which has the goal of returning two astronauts to the lunar surface 'in a sustainable way ' to prepare for sending astronauts to Mars for the first time ever.
The agency needs a finished rocket, a tiny space station, and a brand new lander.
NASA has selected three commercial Moon landing service providers that will deliver science and technology payloads under Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) as part of the Artemis program. Each commercial lander will carry NASA-provided payloads that will conduct science investigations and demonstrate advanced technologies on the lunar surface, paving the way for NASA astronauts to land on the lunar surface by 2024.
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 space agency's administrator says it absolutely plans to return on the back of its own launchers.
The space agency says $1.6 billion will do nicely to help accelerate its moon landing plans.
NASA's next mission to the Moon will be called Artemis, the US space agency announced Monday, though it's still looking for the money to make the journey happen by its accelerated 2024 deadline.
The president directed NASA to land American astronauts on the Moon by 2024, and NASA has accepted the challenge. "We've been given an ambitious and exciting goal" said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. He confirmed at the 35th Space Symposium on April 9, 2019, that the agency's proposed human lunar landing system architecture remains the plan to return crew to the surface as quickly as possible. The human lunar lander will be a public-private partnership working directly with American companies to expedite the program.
The powerhouse that will help NASA's Orion spacecraft venture beyond the Moon is stateside. The European-built service module that will propel, power and cool Orion during flight to the Moon on Exploration Mission-1 arrived from Germany at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday to begin final outfitting, integration and testing with the crew module and other Orion elements.
Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket booster prime contractor Orbital ATK recently completed work at its Utah facilities on the booster nozzles for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the first flight of SLS and the Orion spacecraft.
From 2005 through 2009, the space agency strove to recapture the glory of the space race - with less than half the funding.
The stars are aligning for the December 4 debut mission of NASA's Orion spacecraft, following the completion of the Flight Readiness Review (FRR) - albeit with three "actions" to satisfy ahead of flight. The vehicle also completed all assembly tasks and is almost ready to meet up with her Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle for the key test flight of NASA's deep space exploration crew transport.
The Orion capsule that will make the first flight test into space was celebrated as the cornerstone of a new era of exploration for America's space program.
Although the space program finds itself lacking long-term direction, managers have marked a major milestone for their next crew transport, as the Orion Flight Test (OFT-1) vehicle began construction at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans. This first "flight worthy" Orion is set to launch on top of a Delta IV Heavy in the summer of 2013.
NASA's top human space exploration official told U.S. lawmakers Wednesday the agency expects to settle on a design and schedule for a new heavy-lift rocket and crew capsule by this summer, but experts say it's unlikely the vehicles will meet a mandate to be ready for flight by 2016.
Officials are designing the Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle after the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 directed the agency to develop and fly a heavy-lift rocket by the end of 2016.
Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, blasted Obama's decision to cancel NASA's [Constellation Program] manned mission to the moon.
President Barack Obama's 2011 budget request has effectively shut down NASA's five-year effort to return astronauts to the moon, leaving the U.S. space agency with lofty goals - but no firm deadlines - to once again send humans beyond Earth orbit.
The budget request, released today, would scrap NASA's Constellation program to build the Orion spacecraft and Ares rockets for new manned moon missions - a $9 billion investment to date. The request calls for $19 billion in funding for NASA in 2011, a slight increase from the $18.3 billion it spent in 2010.
The president wants to scrap NASA's space shuttle successor, now in development, and relax the agency's focus on returning to the moon.
Orion is the vehicle NASA's Constellation Program is developing to carry a new generation of explorers back to the moon and later to Mars. Orion will succeed the space shuttle as NASA's primary vehicle for human space exploration.