NASA Outlines Lunar Surface Sustainability Concept

Astronauts on a future lunar walk. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — When NASA sends astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2024, it will be the first time outside of watching historical footage most people witness humans walking on another planetary body. Building on these footsteps, future robotic and human explorers will put in place infrastructure for a long-term sustainable presence on the Moon.

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Using Augmented Reality to Prepare Orion Hardware for Artemis II Crewed Mission

Mary Lakaszcyck, a technician with ASRC Federal Data Solutions, a subcontractor to Orion manufacturer Lockheed Martin, demonstrates a pair of augmented reality (AR) goggles inside the high bay of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building high bay at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 16, 2020. (Credits: NASA/Cory Huston)

By Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

Augmented reality, also known as AR, is a powerful tool that engineers are using to enable NASA to send humans to the Moon under the agency’s Artemis  program. Lockheed Martin, lead contractor for NASA’s Orion spacecraft, is currently using AR to increase efficiency in building the spacecraft for Artemis II, the first crewed mission aboard Orion.

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NASA Receives More Than 12,000 Astronaut Applications

NASA astronaut Christina Koch (right) poses for a portrait with fellow Expedition 61 Flight Engineer Jessica Meir of NASA, who is inside a U.S. spacesuit for a fit check. The two are preparing for their first spacewalk together on Oct. 18, 2019, to replace a failed power controller on the International Space Station’s P6 truss structure. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — More than 12,000 people have applied to join NASA’s next class of astronauts, demonstrating strong national interest to take part in America’s plans to explore the Moon and take humanity’s next giant leap – human missions to Mars.

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NASA Awards Artemis Contract for Gateway Logistics Services

Illustration of the SpaceX Dragon XL as it is deployed from the Falcon Heavy’s second stage in high Earth orbit on its way to the Gateway in lunar orbit. (Credits: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, as the first U.S. commercial provider under the Gateway Logistics Services contract to deliver cargo, experiments and other supplies to the agency’s Gateway in lunar orbit. The award is a significant step forward for NASA’s Artemis program that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 and build a sustainable human lunar presence.

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Orion Ready for Final Artemis I Launch Preparations

Orion undergoing interference testing at NASA’s Plum Brook Station. (Credit: ESA)

By Danielle Sempsrott
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

NASA’s Orion spacecraft for Artemis I returned to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 25 after engineers put it through the rigors of environmental testing at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio. At Kennedy, the spacecraft will undergo final processing and preparations prior to launching on the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to the Moon that will ultimately lead to the exploration of Mars.

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Moon Thrusters Withstand Over 60 Hot-Fire Tests

NASA and Frontier Aerospace are developing next-generation thrusters for use on Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander. In March 2020, thruster prototypes performed over 60 hot-fire tests in a vacuum chamber. (Credits: Frontier Aerospace)

NIAGARA FALLS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Future Artemis lunar landers could use next-generation thrusters, the small rocket engines used to make alterations in a spacecraft’s flight path or altitude, to enter lunar orbit and descend to the surface. Before the engines make the trip to the Moon, helping deliver new science instruments and technology demonstrations, they’re being tested here on Earth.

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Artemis I Spacecraft Environmental Testing Complete

Orion undergoing testing at Plum Brook Station. (Credit: NASA–Marvin Smith)

SANDUSKY, Ohio (NASA PR) — After four months of rigorous testing in the world’s premier space environments simulation facility at NASA’s Plum Brook Station, the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission is certified and another step toward being ready for flight.

The test campaign, which was completed ahead of schedule in mid-March, subjected the spacecraft to the extreme temperatures and electromagnetic conditions it will endure during its uncrewed test flight around the Moon and back to ensure it will perform as designed.

The spacecraft will fly back to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center aboard the agency’s one-of-a-kind Super Guppy to begin final assembly and checkout, including installation of the spacecraft’s four solar arrays, and eventual integration with the Space Launch System rocket.

Audit: NASA Making Progress With Artemis Software

The first Artemis rocket stage is guided toward NASA’s Pegasus barge Jan. 8 ahead of its forthcoming journey to NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credits: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has made progress in improving the development of software for flights of the Space Launch System (SLS) booster and Orion spacecraft that will take American astronauts back to the moon, according to a new audit from the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The software is on track to be ready for the first launch of SLS and an automated Orion capsule in 2021, the review found. However, challenges remain in the over budget and behind schedule effort.

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The Shape of Watering Plants in Space

Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques is photographed performing a reservoir fill on the Veggie Ponds facility in the Columbus module of the International Space Station in 2019. The primary goal of the hardware validation test was to demonstrate plant growth in a newly developed plant growing system, Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System (PONDS). (Credits: NASA)

By Danielle Sempsrott
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

The challenge: getting water to behave the way it does on Earth while in a microgravity environment. A collaboration between NASA, Techshot, Inc., and the Tupperware Brands Corporation is working to get the solution just right.

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How Space Station Research is Helping NASA’s Plans to Explore the Moon and Beyond

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly undergoes ultrasound measurements for the Fluid Shifts experiment during his one-year mission. The investigation measures how much fluid shifts from the lower to the upper body and in or out of cells and blood vessels as well as the effect on vision and the eye. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — As part of the Artemis lunar exploration program, NASA plans to return astronauts to the Moon and use that experience to inform future human exploration of Mars. To safely and comfortably explore for days at a time on the surface of these celestial bodies, astronauts need suitable equipment and places to live. Almost 20 years of human habitation aboard the International Space Station and a growing body of research conducted there are contributing important insights into how to meet these needs for future lunar explorers.

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NASA Leadership Assessing Mission Impacts of Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2020 (NASA PR) — To protect the health and safety of the NASA workforce as the nation responds to coronavirus (COVID-19), agency leadership recently completed the first assessment of work underway across all missions, projects, and programs. The goal was to identify tasks that can be done remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work that must be performed on-site, and on-site work that will be paused.

“We are going to take care of our people. That’s our first priority,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Technology allows us to do a lot of what we need to do remotely, but, where hands-on work is required, it is difficult or impossible to comply with CDC guidelines while processing spaceflight hardware, and where we can’t safely do that we’re going to have to suspend work and focus on the mission critical activities.” 

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New Spinoff Publication Shares How NASA Innovations Benefit Life on Earth

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — As NASA pushes the frontiers of science and human exploration, the agency also advances technology to modernize life on Earth, including drones, self-driving cars and other innovations.

NASA’s diverse missions spur the creation and improvement of thousands of new products that make life better for people around the world. Dozens of the latest examples are featured in the newest edition of NASA’s Spinoff publication, including several examples illustrating how NASA is working to shape the coming revolution of autonomous vehicles on the roads and in the air. 

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Mobile Launchers: NASA’s Billion Dollar Bungle

The VAB is the large building located in the upper left corner of the photograph and ML-1 is the tall tower-like structure resting on the crawler-transporter located in the lower right corner. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The latest audit of NASA’s troubled Artemis lunar program had some good news and some bad news regarding the mobile launch (ML) platforms that will be used for flights of the Space Launch System (SLS) that will send American astronauts back to the moon.

“After nearly a decade of development, ML-1 is nearing completion in support of the launch of Artemis I, the first integrated, uncrewed flight test of the SLS and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion),” the report from NASA Office of Inspector General (IG) said. (Full Report)

And now, the bad news.

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Test Version of Orion Capsule Recovered in the Pacific Ocean

Seahawks from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, also known as Wildcards, fly by a test version of an Orion capsule during Underway Recovery Test-8 in the Pacific Ocean. (Credit: NASA/Tony Gray)

With the USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26) in the distance, helicopters from the HSC-23 squadron fly by a test version of an Orion capsule during Underway Recovery Test-8 in the Pacific Ocean. During this first full mission profile test of the recovery procedures for Artemis I, NASA’s Landing and Recovery team met their objectives.

Artemis I, formerly Exploration Mission-1, will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s Deep Space Exploration Systems: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System rocket, with the newly upgraded Exploration Ground Systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. 

The primary goal of the mission is to assure a safe crew module entry, descent, splashdown and recovery. Artemis will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.

Help NASA Design a Robot to Dig on the Moon

A close-up view of the bucket drums on Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot (RASSOR) in the regolith bin inside Swamp Works at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 5, 2019. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

By Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

Digging on the Moon is a hard job for a robot. It has to be able to collect and move lunar soil, or regolith, but anything launching to the Moon needs to be lightweight. The problem is excavators rely on their weight and traction to dig on Earth. NASA has a solution, but is looking for ideas to make it better. Once matured, robotic excavators could help NASA establish a sustainable presence on the Moon under the Artemis lunar exploration program, a few years after landing astronauts on the surface.

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