United Airlines Commemorates Fiftieth Anniversary of Moon Landing with Celebratory Flight, Specialty Menus & Opportunity to Visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin steps down the ladder to the surface of the moon. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON, June 21, 2019 (United Airlines PR) — Fifty years after Apollo 11 landed on the Moon in July 1969, United Airlines stands with the nation in celebration of this milestone anniversary. Beginning today and continuing throughout July, the airline, in coordination with Houston First Corporation, Space Center Houston, NASA Johnson Space Center and OTG will provide customers with a variety of opportunities to learn about and celebrate space exploration.
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NASA TV to Cover Return of Space Station Crew on Monday

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Roscosmos astronaut Oleg Kononenko and Candian Space Agency astronaut David Saint Jacques in the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Anne McClain and two crewmates on the International Space Station are scheduled to conclude their stay aboard the orbiting laboratory Monday, June 24. Live coverage of their return will begin at 3:30 p.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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Boeing, SpaceX Continue to Work Through Technical Challenges on Commercial Crew

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boeing and SpaceX are continuing to work through a number of technical challenges on their commercial crew spacecraft as NASA struggles to process data needed to certify the vehicles, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

There is sufficient schedule uncertainty, in fact, that GAO recommended the space agency continue planning for additional delays in providing crew transport to the International Space Station (ISS).

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GAO Says Artemis 1 Flight Could Slip Amid Rising Costs

Artist’s conception of Space Launch System in Vehicle Assembly Building (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of NASA’s human lunar effort has concluded the Artemis 1 flight could slip to June 2021 as costs continue to rise.

“In November 2018, within one year of announcing an up to 19-month delay for the three programs—the Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle, the Orion spacecraft, and supporting ground systems—NASA senior leaders acknowledged the revised date of June 2020 is unlikely,” the report concluded. “Any issues uncovered during planned integration and testing may push the launch date as late as June 2021.

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India Eyes Space Station in Earth Orbit

Dr. K Sivan (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said this week the Indian space agency plans to develop a small space station that would give the nation’s Gaganyaan crewed spacecraft a facility to dock with in low Earth orbit.

Elucidating on the space station project, Mr Sivan said the mission will also be an extension of the Gaganyaan project. “We are planning to have a separate space station. We will not be a part of the ISS. Our space station is going to be very small. We will be launching a small module and that will be used for carrying out microgravity experiments,” he told the media.

“We have to sustain the Gaganyaan programme. So, subsequently, as a long-term plan, we are planning to have the space station in India. We are going to join the international community in manned missions to the moon, asteroids. We have a clear plan for the space programme,” the senior scientist said.

By planning a space station, Isro is “not thinking of space tourism”, he said. The Isro chairman said the proposal will be sent to the government for approval after the first Gaganyaan mission by 2022, and it is looking at a timeframe of five to seven years for the programme’s execution. He did not elaborate on the cost of the proposed Indian space station.

The timetable would have the 20 metric ton Indian space station in orbit between 2027 and 2029.

NASA Releases Draft Solicitation on Supplying Lunar Gateway

The power and propulsion element of NASA’s Gateway is a high-power, 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft – three times more powerful than current capabilities. (Credits: NASA)

By Laura Aguiar
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

In the latest step in sending astronauts to the lunar surface within five years, NASA issued a draft solicitation June 14 to industry seeking comments for a future opportunity for American companies to deliver cargo and other supplies to the Gateway in lunar orbit.

The first logistics service to the orbital outpost is expected to deliver science, cargo and other supplies in support of the agency’s new Artemis lunar exploration program, which includes sending the first woman and the next man to the surface of the Moon by 2024.

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Orion Launch Abort System Designed to Pull its Weight for Moon Missions

Orion’s Ascent Abort-2 flight test vehicle. (Credit: NASA/Tony Gray)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Astronauts inside NASA’s Orion spacecraft will soar toward the Moon atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket as part of the agency’s Artemis program to establish a permanent presence at the Moon and learn the skills needed to send humans to Mars. Crew members will journey aboard Orion with the confidence knowing the spacecraft is specifically designed with a number of features to support humans traveling to deep space, including a highly capable Launch Abort System (LAS). The LAS is a structure on top of the crew module that can fire within milliseconds and, with the crew module attached, outrun the powerful rocket if an emergency arises during launch.

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Cost of Moon Landing Estimated at $20 to $30 Billion

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

CNN talked to the NASA administrator about the cost of landing astronauts on the moon by 2024.

>The space agency will need an estimated $20 billion to $30 billion over the next five years for its moon project, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told CNN Business on Thursday. That would mean adding another $4 billion to $6 billion per year, on average, to the agency’s budget, which is already expected to be about $20 billion annually.

Bridenstine’s remarks are the first time that NASA has shared a total cost estimate for its moon program, which is called Artemis (after the Greek goddess of the moon) and could send people to the lunar surface for the first time in half a century. NASA wants that mission to include two astronauts: A man and the first-ever woman to walk on the moon.

The $20 to $30 billion cost estimate is less expensive than some had predicted — though they’re not necessarily the final figures. Bridenstine acknowledged that spaceflight can be dangerous and unpredictable, so it’s practically impossible to settle on an accurate price tag.

“We’re negotiating within the administration,” he said. “We’re talking to [the federal Office of Management and Budget]; we’re talking to the National Space Council.” (The National Space Council is a recently revived policy development group headed by Vice President Mike Pence.)

Assuming the amount is indeed all new funds and doesn’t include what’s already being spent on Orion, SLS and other programs, the only way to meet the deadline would be through a combination of increases to NASA’s budget and cuts to other parts of the space agency’s budget.

It should be noted that members of the House, which is controlled by Democrats, have thus far rejected significant cuts in other NASA programs as they have worked through the space agency’s fiscal year 2020 budget. The Republican Senate has not weighed in yet.

The other thing the story suggests is that the $1.6 billion in supplemental spending the Administration has requested for NASA’s budget is likely too low. Especially if the Senate follows the House’s lead in rejecting cuts from other agency programs.

Video: Atlas V Starliner Emergency Detection System

Video Caption: Go Atlas! Go Starliner! Watch the latest episode when we learn about the Emergency Detection System – unique technology developed for the Atlas V Starliner designed to protect the crew and monitor the health of the rocket.

Experiments Selected to Fly Aboard Chinese Space Station

Artist’s conception of China’s Tianhe-1 space station. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering)

VIENNA,  12 June (UN Information Service) – The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced the winners of their joint opportunity to conduct experiments on board the China Space Station (CSS) during a side event of the 62nd session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).

Six winning projects were selected, and three were conditionally selected. The winning institutions come from a variety of countries, including Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, the Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Switzerland.

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Bigelow Space Operations Reserves up to Four Dedicated SpaceX Launches to Space Station

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (BSO PR) — On Friday, June 7, 2019, Bigelow Space Operations (BSO) announced that last September of 2018 BSO paid substantial sums as deposits and reservation fees to secure up to four SpaceX launches to the International Space Station (ISS). These launches are dedicated flights each carrying up to four people for a duration of one to possibly two months on the ISS.

BSO is excited about NASA’s announcements last Friday. BSO has demonstrated its sincerity and commitment to moving forward on NASA’s commercialization plans for the ISS through the execution of last September’s launch contracts. BSO intends to thoroughly digest all of the information that was dispersed last week so that all opportunities and obligations to properly conduct the flights and activities of new astronauts to the ISS can be responsibly performed.

In these early times, the seat cost will be targeted at approximately $52,000,000per person.

The next big question is when is this all going to happen? Once the SpaceX rocket and capsule are certified by NASA to fly people to the ISS, then this program can begin.

As you might imagine, as they say “the devil is in the details”, and there are many. But we are excited and optimistic that all of this can come together successfully, and BSO has skin in the game.

— Robert T. Bigelow President, Bigelow Space Operations

Exploring the Moon Promises Innovation and Benefit at Home

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

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Walking on another world was science fiction until NASA’s Apollo program made it a reality. Fifty years later, we look back on the benefits of Apollo and imagine how the digital age could transform now that America’s sights are set on returning humans to the Moon by 2024 under the Artemis program.

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ISRO Holds First Gaganyaan National Advisory Council Meeting

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — Today, June 8, 2019, the first meeting of Gaganyaan National Advisory Council was held at ISRO Headquarters, Bengaluru chaired by Dr. K Sivan, Secretary, Department of Space.

The meeting was attended by Dr K Kasturirangan, Honorary Distinguished Advisor, ISRO, Prof K VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to Government of India,Dr B N Suresh, Honorary Distinguished Professor, ISRO, Prof  Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Secretary Defence R&D, Chairman, DRDO, Dr Shekhar C Mande, Secretary DSIR, Director General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Prof Anurag Kumar, Director, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Shri R Madhavan, Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., Wing Cdr. (Rtd) Rakesh Sharma, Former Indian Astronaut, Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Space), Rear Admiral D S Gujarl, Asst Chief of Naval Staff, Indian Navy, Inspector General KR Suresh TM, Deputy Director General (Operations and Coastal Security) Indian Coast Guard.

During the meeting, Dr Unnikrishnan Nair, Director, Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC), ISRO, made a presentation on the overall project status of Gaganyaan, covering technical details as well as collaboration with various national stake holders.

The council deliberated in detail on various aspects of Gaganyaan and appreciated the efforts made in this regard in the fast track mode and Institutional mechanisms put in place by ISRO.  It stressed the need for setting priorities at various National Institutions including Industries to accomplish Gaganyaan.  Many essential aspects of Gaganyaan, especially the life support systems and crew selection and training, were discussed in detail.  In the end, the council emphasised the urgent need for further accelerating the efforts to realise Gaganyaan in a very demanding time frame of December 2021 amidst formidable challenges.

NASA Opens Up International Space Station to Private Astronauts

Space tourist Guy Laliberte (front, far right) aboard the International Space Station.
Guy Laliberte (first row, far right) aboard the International Space Station.

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — As part of NASA’s mission to stimulate a low-Earth orbit (LEO) economy, NASA is enabling up to two short-duration private astronaut missions per year to the International Space Station beginning as early as 2020.

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PBS Commemorates Apollo 11’s 50th Anniversary With 8 DAYS: TO THE MOON AND BACK

Michael Collins (Patrick Kennedy) looking at the Moon out of the Command Service Module window. Collins orbited the Moon alone in the CSM while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin conducted their historic Moonwalk. (Credit: BBC Studios)

ARLINGTON, VA; June 5, 2019 (PBS PR) – PBS is taking viewers on a unique adventure with the crew of Apollo 11 for their eight-day, three-hour, 18-minute and 35-second mission in 8 DAYS: TO THE MOON AND BACK, a new film co-produced with BBC Studios. Premiering Wednesday, July 17 at 9:00 p.m. ET as part of the previously announced “Summer of Space” multiplatform experience, the documentary seamlessly blends authentic rare mission audio featuring candid conversations between Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins with newly shot studio footage, NASA and news archives, and stunning CGI recreation of the historic journey and landing to bring this adventure back to life.

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