WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has taken the next steps toward building Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stages to support as many as 10 Artemis missions, including the mission that will carry the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024.
On March 26, Vice President Mike Pence went to Huntsville, Ala., to declare that the Trump Administration would use “any means necessary” to accelerate the return of American astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024 — four years earlier than planned.
Pence was putting Huntsville-based Marshall Space Flight Center and prime contractor Boeing on notice to get the delayed, over budget Space Launch System (SLS) being built to accomplish that goal back on track. If they didn’t, the administration would find other rockets to do the job.
In his effort to accelerate the Artemis lunar program, however, Pence unintentionally contributed to delays in NASA’s behind schedule effort to launch astronauts to a much closer location: low Earth orbit.
LOS ANGELES, Calif., Oct. 8, 2019 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – Aerojet Rocketdyne has entered into a Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to design and manufacture a lightweight rocket engine thrust chamber assembly using innovative additive manufacturing processes and materials. The goal of the project is to reduce manufacturing costs and make a thrust chamber that is easily scalable to support a variety of missions, including America’s return to the Moon and subsequent missions to explore Mars.
PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) —Put an ear to the ground on Mars and you’ll be rewarded with a symphony of sounds. Granted, you’ll need superhuman hearing, but NASA’s InSight lander comes equipped with a very special “ear.”
The spacecraft’s exquisitely sensitive seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), can pick up vibrations as subtle as a breeze. The instrument was provided by the French space agency, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), and its partners.
Astrobotic, Blue Origin, ExoTerra, Paragon and SpaceX among contract awardees for advanced technologies
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 14 American companies as partners whose technologies will help enable the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.
The selections are based on NASA’s fourth competitive Tipping Point solicitation and have a combined total award value of about $43.2 million. This investment in the U.S. space industry, including small businesses across the country, will help bring the technologies to market and ready them for use by NASA.
Greenbelt, Md. (NASA PR) — Working with NASA’s OSIRIS-REx team, the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) approved the theme “birds and bird-like creatures in mythology” for naming surface features on asteroid (101955) Bennu.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — An icy ocean world in our solar system that could tell us more about the potential for life on other worlds is coming into focus with confirmation of the EuropaClipper mission’s next phase. The decision allows the mission to progress to completion of final design, followed by the construction and testing of the entire spacecraft and science payload.
“We are all excited about the decision that moves the Europa Clipper
mission one key step closer to unlocking the mysteries of this ocean
world,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science
Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We are building
upon the scientific insights received from the flagship Galileo and
Cassini spacecraft and working to advance our understanding of our
cosmic origin, and even life elsewhere.”
The mission will conduct an in-depth exploration of Jupiter’s moon,
Europa, and investigate whether the icy moon could harbor conditions
suitable for life, honing our insights into astrobiology. To
develop this mission in the most cost-effective fashion, NASA is
targeting to have the Europa Clipper spacecraft complete and ready for
launch as early as 2023. The agency baseline commitment, however,
supports a launch readiness date by 2025.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California leads the
development of the Europa Clipper mission in partnership with the Johns
Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for the Science Mission
Directorate. Europa Clipper is managed by the Planetary Missions Program
Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
DEER PARK, Texas – Congressman Brian Babin (TX-36) issued the following statement in response to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s announcement today awarding the lunar lander program management to Marshall Space Flight Center.
“I am disappointed by the decision from NASA to not place the lunar lander program management at the Johnson Space Center (JSC),” said Babin. “Marshall Space Flight Center does tremendous work for our nation’s space program, but the knowledge base and skill set for this task unquestionably resides at JSC where the Apollo lunar lander program was successfully managed. Yesterday, I joined Senators Cruz and Cornyn in sending a letter to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine requesting that this decision be reconsidered.”
To view the letter sent to Administrator Bridenstine, pleaseclick here.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala., August 16, 2019 (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was joined Friday by U.S. Representatives Mo Brooks and Robert Aderholt of Alabama and Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to announce the center’s new role leading the agency’s Human Landing System Program for its return to the Moon by 2024.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Dr. Lisa Watson-Morgan has been named program manager for NASA’s Human Landing System, tasked with rapid development of the lander that will safely carry the first woman and the next man to the Moon’s surface in 2024. That voyage, a critical milestone in NASA’s bold new Artemis Program, will pave the way for a long-term human presence on the Moon by 2028, reigniting America’s leadership in crewed exploration of the solar system and taking the next giant leap toward sending human explorers to Mars.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is set to speak at Marshall Space Flight Center on Friday where he is expected to announce that the Alabama field center will manage the lander being designed to land American astronauts on the moon by 2024.
Members of Texas’ Congressional delegation are urging Bridenstine to hold off on the decision.
U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) today urged NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to reconsider his decision and refrain from an official announcement until an official briefing is held.
In a letter to Administrator Bridenstine, the lawmakers wrote:
“The Johnson Space Center has served as NASA’s lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century. […] ‘Houston’ was one of the first words ever uttered on the Moon, and Houston, the city that last sent man to the Moon, should be where the lander that will once again send Americans to the lunar surface is developed. Accordingly, we request that you reconsider this decision, and hold off on any formal announcements until we can receive a briefing on this matter that includes the timeline, projected cost, and rationale for this decision.”
No word yet on whether the event will go on as scheduled at 3:10 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 16. The remarks will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
A press release and the letter sent to Bridenstine follow.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to a news report that NASA will designate the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to lead the development of the human-classed lunar lander for the Artemis program over the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas – which has served as NASA’s lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) today urged NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to reconsider his decision and refrain from an official announcement until an official briefing is held.
In a letter to Administrator Bridenstine, the lawmakers wrote:
“The Johnson Space Center has served as NASA’s lead center for human
spaceflight for more than half a century. […] ‘Houston’ was one of the
first words ever uttered on the Moon, and Houston, the city that last
sent man to the Moon, should be where the lander that will once again
send Americans to the lunar surface is developed. Accordingly, we
request that you reconsider this decision, and hold off on any formal
announcements until we can receive a briefing on this matter that
includes the timeline, projected cost, and rationale for this decision.”
In 2018, Sens. Cruz and Cornyn sent a letter with Rep. Babin, and former Reps. John Culberson (R-Texas), and Lamar
Smith (R-Texas) requesting the Johnson Space Center be the location of
the new lunar lander program.
The follow-up letter to Administrator Bridenstine can be read here and below.
August 15, 2019
The Honorable James F. Bridenstine Administrator National Aeronautics and Space Administration 300 E. St. SW Washington, D.C. 20546
Dear Administrator Bridenstine,
We are writing to you today in light of a recent report that this
Friday, August 16, 2019, you plan to announce that the Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama will manage the development of the
lunar lander for the Artemis program and oversee the commercial
development of two of the three elements, the Transfer Element and
Descent Element, of that lander. According to that same report the
Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas, will oversee the commercial
development of only one of three elements, the Ascent Element. This is
very troubling if accurate.
While the Marshall Space Flight Center specializes in rocketry and
spacecraft propulsion, and is undoubtedly the leader in these areas, it
is the Johnson Space Center, which has been, and continues to be, ground
zero for human space exploration. We are deeply concerned that NASA is
not only disregarding this history but that splitting up the work on the
lander between two different geographic locations is an unnecessary and
a counterproductive departure from the unquestionable success of the
previous lunar lander program. The integration of development
responsibilities into one center-ideally the center with the longest
history and deepest institutional knowledge of human space
exploration-would be the most cost-efficient, streamlined, and effective
approach, and is the approach that NASA should pursue.
As you may recall, on August 28, 2018, we sent you a letter
articulating the reasons why the Johnson Space Center would be the most
appropriate home for the lunar lander program. In that letter, we
highlighted the Johnson Space Center’s storied history as the lead
center for human spaceflight and deep experience with human space
exploration, and expressed our strong desire that it be selected as the
NASA Center responsible for establishing and leading the lunar lander
program. While much has changed in the intervening year, our feelings on
this matter have not.
The Johnson Space Center has served as NASA’s lead center for human
spaceflight for more than half a century. It is home to our nation’s
astronaut corps, the International Space Station mission operations, and
the Orion crew, and the men and women working there possess both the
institutional knowledge and technical expertise needed to manage all
facets of the successful development of a lunar lander for the Artemis program. “Houston” was one of the first words ever uttered on the Moon,
and Houston, the city that last sent man to the Moon, should be where
the lander that will once again send Americans to the lunar surface is
Accordingly, we request that you reconsider this decision, and hold
off on any formal announcements until we receive a briefing on this
matter that includes the timeline, projected cost, and rational for this
Please contact Duncan Rankin at 202-224-5922, Andrew Cooper at
202-224-2934, and Steve Janushkowsky at 202-225-1555 with any questions
regarding this request. Thank you for your prompt attention to this
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, joined by U.S. Representatives Mo
Brooks, Robert Aderholt, Scott DesJarlais and Brian Babin, will discuss
updates on the agency’s plans for landing humans on the Moon by 2024
through the Artemis program at 3:10 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 16. The remarks will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
From the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Bridenstine will discuss the center’s role in
launching astronauts to the Moon and landing them safely on the lunar
surface. Brooks, Aderholt, DesJarlais and Babin also will deliver
remarks, then join the administrator to take questions from the media.
In addition to making this announcement, Bridenstine will view
progress on SLS and other efforts key to landing the first woman and the
next man on the Moon in five years.
For more on NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, visit:
Nothing illustrates the changes wrought by the Trump Administration’s decision to move up the deadline for returning astronauts to the moon from 2028 to 2024 than a pair of contracts NASA awarded for the Lunar Gateway that will serve as a staging point for the landing.
In May, Maxar won a competitively awarded $375 million contract to build the Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element (PPE). NASA released a source selection statement that detailed how officials evaluated the five bids they received and why Maxar’s proposal was superior to the others.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — At the heart of future rocket engines lifting off to the Moon or Mars could be a 3D printed combustion chamber. Multiple NASA centers partnered with Virgin Orbit to develop and test a uniquely manufactured rocket part.
The Huntsville Times has an editorial titled, “It’s time to end NASA’s limbo,” in which it urges a quick action on finalizing the space agency’s budget and a rapid start of work on its heavy-lift program:
Congress and the White House then spent most of 2010 trying to agree on a direction for NASA. The end result, which should put the creation of a new heavy-lift vehicle in the hands of Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center, now appears to be stuck: There’s a direction, but a continuing resolution by Congress doesn’t specifically point money to the new heavy-lift program, which means work might not get off the ground.