Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)

Teams are evaluating how to train for lunar surface operations during Artemis missions, in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at Johnson Space Center in Houston. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA engineers are laying the foundation for the moonwalks the first woman and next man will conduct when they land on the lunar South Pole in 2024 as part of the Artemis program. At the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, teams are testing the tools and developing training approaches for lunar surface operations.

As part of a test series occurring in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) at Johnson, astronauts in a demonstration version of the exploration spacesuit and engineers in “hard hat” dive equipment are simulating several different tasks crew could do on the surface of the Moon.

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No S—! ISS Astronauts to Boldly Go on New Toilet

Credit: NASA

“Today’s coffee is tomorrow’s coffee!”
— NASA Astronaut Jessica Meir

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — It’s the space-age old question: how do astronauts go to the bathroom in space? The most basic human biological processes becomes challenging off-planet due in part to the lack of gravity. NASA is launching a new space toilet, the Universal Waste Management System (UWMS), to the International Space Station on Northrop Grumman’s 14th contract resupply mission in September. Another UWMS unit will be installed in Orion for the Artemis II flight test that will send astronauts on a 10-day mission beyond the Moon and back.

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As Bridenstine Begs for Bucks at Home, Italy & Japan Move Forward on Artemis Cooperation

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the same week he pleaded with Senators to fully fund the Artemis lunar program, Jim Bridenstine signed a cooperation agreement with Italy and a key partner, Japan, moved forward with its part of the effort.

On Friday, Bridenstine “signed a joint statement of intent with Italian Undersecretary to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers Riccardo Fraccaro, representing the Italian government, articulating strong mutual interest between the two countries in pursuing Italian contributions to lunar exploration activities as part of NASA’s Artemis Program,” the agency announced in a press release.

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NASA, U.S. Space Force Sign MOU to Deepen Cooperation

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — While advancing plans for unprecedented lunar exploration under the Artemis program, NASA also is building on a longstanding partnership with the Department of Defense with a new memorandum of understanding announced today by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and U.S. Space Force (USSF) Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond.

The agreement, discussed during a Sept. 22 Mitchell Institute virtual event, commits the two organizations to broad collaboration in areas including human spaceflight, U.S. space policy, space transportation, standards and best practices for safe operations in space, scientific research, and planetary defense.

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Blue Origin Schedules Next New Shepard Launch for Thursday

The New Shepard (NS) booster lands after this vehicle’s fifth flight during NS-11 on May 2, 2019. (Credits: Blue Origin)

Next New Shepard Launch Will Test Key Technologies with NASA for Returning to the Moon 

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin’s next New Shepard mission (NS-13) is currently targeting liftoff for Thursday, September 24, at 10:00 am CDT / 15:00 UTC. Current weather conditions are favorable. This will be the 13th New Shepard mission and the 7th consecutive flight for this particular vehicle (a record), demonstrating its operational reusability. 

You can watch the launch live at BlueOrigin.com. The pre-show begins at T-30 minutes and will provide mission details, including a special update from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

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NASA to Discuss Early Artemis Exploration Plans with Media

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will discuss the agency’s latest Artemis  program exploration plans during a media teleconference today at 5 p.m. EDT. Audio of the call will stream live on the agency’s website.

Additional NASA participants in the discussion include:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate
  • James Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate
  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate

About 18 months ago, NASA accepted a bold challenge to send the first woman and next man to the surface of the Moon in 2024.

For more information about America’s Moon to Mars exploration plans, go to:

https://www.nasa.gov/moontomars

Editor’s Note: Note the language here. NASA has deleted mention of sending the Artemis III astronauts to the south pole of the moon. Now it’s the lunar surface.

The change is in line with a trial balloon that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine floated last week of having the first landing crew of Artemis III visit one of the Apollo sites.

UPDATE: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was emphatic that the first crewed landing and subsequent ones would be going to the lunar south pole. He said remarks he made last week were misinterpreted. Interestingly, the press release announcing the phase 1 plan doesn’t include mention of the south pole.

Artemis: Back to the Future Past?

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, deploys two components of the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package on the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity in 1969. A seismic experiment is in his left hand, and in his right is a laser-reflecting panel. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, mission commander, took this photograph. (Credits: NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center)

UPDATE: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was emphatic today that the first crewed landing and subsequent ones would land at the lunar south pole. He said remarks he made last week were misinterpreted.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For 18 months NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump Administration officials have repeatedly promised to land the next man and the first woman at the south pole of the moon in 2024.

Now, that plan has apparently changed.

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GITAI, JAXA Start Business Concept Co-creation Activities for World’s First Space Work Robot Business

Translated from Japanese with Google Translate

TOKYO (JAXA/GITAI PR) — GITAI Japan Co., Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will identify tasks that require robotics in outer space, and robots that perform these tasks. Aiming to acquire technology and provide services by robots, we will start business concept co-creation activities under the JAXA Space Innovation Partnership and and Co-creation (J-SPARC) initiative.

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Dynetics Marks Progress with Artemis Human Landing System Test Article Development

Human lander (Credit: Dynetics)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Sept. 15, 2020 (Dynetics PR) — Dynetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, has completed building a full-scale human landing system (HLS) test article that will be used for initial evaluations for NASA’s Artemis program.

The Dynetics HLS (DHLS) test article, located in Huntsville, Ala., is built to-scale and allows for test and evaluation across the engineering lifecycle. The DHLS team will use the test article for human-in-the-loop (HITL) task identification and analysis, assessing net habitable volume, crew module accommodations, placement and orientation of various components and overall habitability.

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Future Rocket Engines May Include Large-Scale 3D Printing

Blown powder directed energy deposition can produce large structures – such as these engine nozzles – cheaper and quicker than traditional fabrication techniques. (Credits: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — As part of the Artemis  program, NASA is returning astronauts to the Moon where we will prepare for human exploration of Mars. Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, experts from NASA, industry, and academia are pioneering methods to print the rocket parts that could power those journeys.

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Boeing Faces Independent Compliance & Ethics Review

Douglas Loverro (Credit: NASA)

Reuters reports that Boeing has submitted to an independent review of its compliance and ethics practices under an agreement with NASA and the U.S. Air Force in the wake of scandal relating to its bid to built the space agency’s crewed lunar lander.

The agreement, signed in August, comes as federal prosecutors continue a criminal investigation into whether NASA’s former human exploration chief, Doug Loverro, improperly guided Boeing space executive Jim Chilton during the contract bidding process.

By agreeing to the “Compliance Program Enhancements”, the aerospace heavyweight staves off harsher consequences from NASA and the Air Force – its space division’s top customers – such as being suspended or debarred from bidding on future space contracts.

The agreement calls for Boeing to pay a “third party expert” to assess its ethics and compliance programs and review training procedures for executives who liaise with government officials, citing “concerns related to procurement integrity” during NASA’s Human Landing System competition.

Loverro resigned his NASA post in May. Reuters reports that Boeing has fired a company attorney and a number of mid-level employees. The company has also revised its procurement procedures.

NASA rejected Boeing bid on the human lander for the Artemis program, which aims to land two astronauts at the south pole of the moon in 2024.

NASA awarded study contracts to Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX. The space agency plans to award a multi-billion contract to build the lander.

NASA Selects Catherine Koerner as Orion Program Manager

Catherine Koerner (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — 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 that will carry astronauts on Artemis missions to the Moon and return them safely to Earth. Koerner begins her new position effective Tuesday, Sept. 8.

“I’m honored to be selected as the Orion Program Manager. Orion is a key element of the agency’s Artemis infrastructure, and I look forward to leading the team responsible for developing and building America’s deep space human spacecraft,” Koerner said. “Next year we’ll be launching the Artemis I test flight – a major milestone – and the first of the Artemis mission series on our way to putting the first woman and the next man on the Moon.”

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NASA Enlists Commercial Partners to Fly Payloads to Moon

The Moon as viewed by NASA’s Mariner 10 in 1973, well before research would find signs of rust on the airless surface. (Credits: NASA/JPL/Northwestern University)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has issued another request to its 14 Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) partners to bid on flying a suite of payloads to the Moon. The request asks partners to fly 10 NASA science investigations and technology demonstrations to a non-polar region of the Moon in 2022.

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New Gears Can Withstand Impact, Freezing Temperatures During Lunar Missions

Andrew Kennett (left) watches as Dominic Aldi (right) uses liquid nitrogen to cool a motor integrated bulk metallic glass gearbox prior to shock testing it. The motor and gearbox are inside the frosty metal “bucket” that contains the liquid nitrogen. The tooling, including the “bucket” is designed to be mounted both vertically (shown) and horizontally on the cube for testing the motor and gearbox in three orientations. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Many exploration destinations in our solar system are frigid and require hardware that can withstand the extreme cold. During NASA’s Artemis missions, temperatures at the Moon’s South Pole will drop drastically during the lunar night. Farther into the solar system, on Jupiter’s moon Europa, temperatures never rise above -260 degrees Fahrenheit (-162 degrees Celsius) at the equator.

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