Lucas Backs Trump Administration Plan to Land Astronauts on Moon in 2024


WASHINGTON (Frank Lucas PR) — House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas commented in support of the Administration’s proposed NASA budget amendment to once again land human on the Moon by 2024.

“America has long been the preeminent power in space but we’re facing more and more competition as other nations propose bold exploration plans,” Lucas said. “The President and Vice President’s challenge to land on the Moon by 2024 reflects the urgent need for American leadership in space – it’s an ambitious challenge but one I fully support and urge the American people to get behind. For too long U.S. space exploration has been plagued by both a lack of a bold vision and a long-term commitment to see ideas through to execution. Returning to the Moon is a national priority not only because it can help us learn more about our own planet, but because it will allow us to explore its resources and conduct groundbreaking research. It will help us develop and test the technology and life-support required for our most ambitious goal to date: sending humans to Mars.”

Lucas continued, “I commend the Administration for putting forward an initial plan that is budget neutral and technically feasible and gives NASA the down payment to send Americans to the Moon by 2024 without jeopardizing other critical missions. As NASA acknowledges, more information and more funding will be needed to make this goal a reality, and we’ll be reviewing those details as they become available. We must stay the course on this mission and I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to make both the initial and long-term investments necessary to send American astronauts to the Moon and ultimately Mars.”

Charlie Brown or Snoopy: America’s Future in Space Hangs in the Balance

As the Apollo 10 crew walks along a corridor on the way to Launch Complex 39B, mission commander Thomas P. Stafford pats the nose of Snoopy, the mission’s mascot, held by Jamye Flowers, astronaut Gordon Coopers’ secretary. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

This week, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the flight of Apollo 10, the final mission before the first manned landing on the moon by Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969.

During the 8-day voyage, Tom Stafford and Eugene Cernan took the lunar module (LM) to within 47,400 feet (14.4 km) of the lunar surface before rendezvousing with the command service module (CSM) piloted by John Young.

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NASA Selects Paragon for SBIR Phase II Award

Paragon Space Development Corporation will continue to developed an improved system to remove liquid condensation from the air for use on the International Space Station and future crewed vehicles beyond low Earth orbit under a NASA grant.

NASA has selected the Tuscon, Ariz.-based company for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II award to continue work on the COndensate Separator for Microgravity Conditions (COSMIC) device. The contract is worth up to $750,000 over two years.

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House Subcommittee Boosts NASA Budget, Ignores Supplemental Request

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

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The House commerce, justice and science subcommittee approved a fiscal year 2020 budget for NASA that increases the space agency’s budget while ignoring a $1.6 billion supplemental budget request from the Trump Administration that NASA says is required to land astronauts on the south pole of the moon in 2024.

The House measure would boost NASA’s budget from $21.5 billion to $22.32 billion, an increase of $820 million. The amount is below the Trump Administration’s total request of $22.62 million for fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020). That would be an increase of $1.1 billion over NASA’s current budget.

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NASA Taps 11 American Companies to Advance Human Lunar Landers

Artist’s conception of lunar lander (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 11 companies to conduct studies and produce prototypes of human landers for its Artemis lunar exploration program. This effort will help put American astronauts — the first woman and next man — on the Moon’s south pole by 2024 and establish sustainable missions by 2028.

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House Appropriations Committee Boosts Budgets for NASA, NOAA


WASHINGTON (House Appropriations Committee PR) — The House Appropriations Committee today released the draft fiscal year 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee on Friday, May 17. The bill funds the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other related agencies.

The text of the bill is here. The subcommittee markup will be webcast live and linked from https://appropriations.house.gov/events/markups.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – NASA is funded at $22.32 billion, $815 million above the 2019 enacted level. This funding includes:

  • $7.16 billion for NASA Science programs – $255.6 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level.
  • $123 million for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Engagement, $13 million above fiscal year 2019 and rejecting the Administration’s request to eliminate funding for these programs, which help inspire and train the country’s future STEM workforce.
  • $5.1 billion for Exploration – $79.1 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level. This includes funding to continue the development of the Orion crew vehicle, Space Launch System, and related ground systems.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – The legislation contains $5.48 billion for NOAA, which is $54.28 million above the fiscal year 2019 level and more than $1 million above the Administration’s request. Funding will help address important priorities such as climate research, improvements in weather forecasting, the reduction of harmful algal blooms, and fisheries management.

Editor’s Note: The measure does not seem to take into account the supplemental request made earlier this week for NASA.

Working on a freelance project right now, so I don’t have time to go through the bill. For anyone who has time to take a look at the text of the House markup (link above), here are some resources for comparison purposes:

Space Plants Project Could be Astronaut Game Changer

by Kelli Trifonovitch
University of Hawaii News

MANOA, Hawaii — The robotic arm glides past past stacked rows of herbs, lettuce and cabbages, bathed in artificial light. It is part of an autonomous hydroponic growing system called Box Farm that was designed and built by engineering students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. It may be an important tool for space crews someday, and the project won first place in the UH Mānoa College of Engineering Francis J. Rhodes Montgomery innovation competition in April.

“Itʻs an automated plant growing system,” said Preston Tran, a senior mechanical engineering student and team leader. “Itʻs able to seed, transfer and monitor your plants. To make sure that your plants are at the most optimal condition.”

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Untangling the Numbers in NASA’s Supplemental Budget Request

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In seeking a $1.6 billion increase in NASA’s budget for fiscal year 2020 to land astronauts on the moon in 2024, the Trump Administration has claimed that “no NASA programs were cut” to accommodate the new spending.  However, to quote Obi-wan Kenobi, this is only true from a certain point of view.

The Administration’s original FY 2020 request would cut NASA’s current $21.5 billion budget by $488 million while shifting funds from other space agency programs to the Artemis lunar program. Thus, the claim of no cuts can likely be interpreted as no reductions beyond what the Trump Administration has already proposed.

Further, the overall increase is not as large as it sounds. The supplemental request would increase NASA’s budget by $1.1 billion from its current $21.5 billion to $22.6 billion.

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Lunar Power System Team Wins President’s Award

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — In preparation of establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon by 2028, NASA is developing new technologies that will let astronauts land, live and explore the surface. In this video, Marc Gibson of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland describes Kilopower, a power system to enable long-duration stays on planetary surfaces, including the Moon and Mars.

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Who Was Ernest Shackleton? A Brief Biography

Ernest Shackleton

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Nearly a century after his death, Ernest Shackleton is back in the news after Blue Origin tweeted a photo of the Antarctic explorer’s ship, Endurance, with the date 5.9.19.

The tweet has fed speculation that Jeff Bezos’ company might announce a mission next week to a crater at the south pole of the moon that is named after Shackleton. (For more about that, see Why Everyone Interested in Shackleton Crater.)

You might also be asking: Who was Shackleton? What did he accomplish at the South Pole? Why is a crater on the moon named after him? And what does all this have to do with Bezos?

All excellent questions. Let’s find more about one of history’s greatest explorers.

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Space Technologist Lindsay Aitchison Ensures Astronauts are Suited for the Next Moon Mission

Lindsay Aitchison wears a prototype space suit as part of the Advanced Exploration Systems Advanced Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Development Project test of the Portable Life Support System (PLSS) 2.0. The test goal is to evaluate thermal control and life support system performance. (Credit: NASA)

Q&A Courtesy of NASA

Q. What do you do at NASA?

A. I am a spacesuit engineer.

At the beginning of my career, I spent a lot of time in the Advanced Spacesuit Lab at NASA’s Johnson Space Center with my team testing and modifying spacesuit designs to enable the next generation of astronauts—both men and women—to walk around, work and conduct science experiments on the Moon.

In my current position with the Human Landing System program, I use my experience in spacesuit design to help formulate the strategy for how we are returning astronauts to the Moon and collaborating with the scientists to determine what experiments the astronauts can do once we get there.
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Bridenstine: NASA Needs Funding Surge to Land on Moon by 2024

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

SpaceNews reports that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine didn’t do much on Wednesday to clear up what the Trump Administration’s plan to land astronauts on the moon by 2024 is going to cost in testimony before the commerce, justice and science subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Bridenstine declined to offer a dollar figure, saying that the agency submitted a “pretty good” proposal to the Office of Management and Budget, which is performing its own review along with the staff of the National Space Council. The goal, he said, is to “come up with a unified administration position” on how much additional funding NASA will request.
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Former Astronaut Leads New Space Habitat Research Institute at UC Davis

Stephen Robinson

By Andy Fell
University of California, Davis

In a significant step toward human-crewed space missions to the moon or Mars, NASA has awarded a grant of up to $15 million over five years to a new research institute led by the University of California, Davis. The HOME (Habitats Optimized for Missions of Exploration) Space Technology Research Institute will develop enabling technology for spacecraft and deep-space bases of the future.

HOME is led by Professor Stephen Robinson, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC Davis and a former astronaut.

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What’s for Dinner? For Future Astronauts, Algae

Photobioreactor provides oxygen and a source of nutrition for astronauts. (Credit: Airbus)

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (Airbus PR) – Airbus is bringing another experimental system to the International Space Station (ISS) in the form of the photobioreactor (PBR). The PBR, developed by the University of Stuttgart and built by Airbus on behalf of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), is designed to convert part of the CO2 extracted by the ‘LSR’ Life Support Rack on board the ISS into oxygen and biomass, which could help to save valuable resources during future long-term missions into space.

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