Northrop Grumman Completes Preliminary Design Review for NASA’s Gateway Crew Module

Artist illustration of Northrop Grumman’s HALO module and the Power Propulsion Element which form the first critical component of NASA’s Gateway. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Company based the design for HALO on its flight-proven Cygnus spacecraft

DULLES, Va., Nov. 18, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has successfully completed its initial preliminary design review (PDR) event for the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO). The module will serve as living quarters for astronauts at the Gateway during lunar exploration missions.

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Report: Loverro Feared 2024 Moon Landing Would be Imperiled by Boeing Contract Protest

Douglas Loverro (Credit: NASA)

A former senior NASA official violated procurement regulations in his dealings with Boeing out of fear the company could delay the Trump Administration’s plan to land astronauts on the moon in 2024, The Washington Post reports.

The Post reports that NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration Doug Loverro reached out to Boeing Senior Vice President Jim Chilton in February to tell the company it would not win a study contract for the Human Landing System, a vehicle that will take astronauts to and from the lunar surface. The call came at a time when NASA was not to contact any of the bidders.

Loverro, who abruptly resigned in May, wanted to find out if Boeing planned to protest its loss. If so, NASA would need to issue stop work orders to the winning bidders until the Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled on the protest. GAO reviews usually take months.

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OIG Audit: NASA Gateway Elements Behind Schedule, Over Budget

Artemis Gateway (Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s attempt to use innovative acquisition practices to speed up development of the lunar Gateway has left the first two elements of the station over budget and behind schedule, according to a new audit from the space agency’s Office of Inspector General.

It is also unlikely the human-tended Gateway will be capable of supporting the planned 2024 mission to land American astronauts at the south pole of the moon, the audit concluded.

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Senate Appropriations Committee Sticks a Fork in NASA’s 2024 Moon Landing Plan

Artemis Gateway (Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It looks as if the Trump Administration’s goal of landing astronauts on the moon in 2024 is expiring at about the same time as the administration itself. The fatal blow is being struck by Congress, not the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has released a fiscal year 2021 funding bill that includes $1 billion for NASA to Human Landing System (HLS) that will take astronauts to and from the lunar surface as part of the Artemis program. The amount is far short of the $3.2 billion that NASA has said is needed for HLS to keep the 2024 landing on schedule.

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Bridenstine to Leave NASA Administrator Post

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a decision that has disappointed his supporters, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine plans to leave his position even if president-elect Joe Biden asked him to stay.

Irene Klotz broke the news in Aviation Week. The story is behind a paywall, but Klotz did tweet:

“You need somebody who has a close relationship with the president of the U.S. … somebody trusted by the administration…. including OMB, National Space Council, National Security Council. I think I would not be the right person for that in a new administration –Bridenstine

Agency administrators usually change when a new president comes in, particularly if he is from a different party. Bridenstine is a former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma appointed by President Donald Trump, who was defeated by his Democratic opponent Biden last week.

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Embarrassed ISRO Keeping Vikram Failure Report Secret

This before and after image ratio highlights changes to the surface; the impact point is near center of the image and stands out due the dark rays and bright outer halo. Note the dark streak and debris about 100 meters to the SSE of the impact point. Diagonal straight lines are uncorrected background artifacts. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

The News Minute reports the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to keep the failure report for its Vikram lunar lander under wraps.

According to the TOI report, the [Right to Information (RTI)] query was filed by Sathish GN, a resident of Bengaluru. Sathish had sought the details of the FAC report on the hard landing of Vikram lander. However, the RTI response states that this information cannot be divulged under Section 8(1) of the RTI Act. This section lists exemption of disclosure of information that would “prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.”

A veteran scientist and former ISRO Chief said that ISRO’s decision may not be the best. “I don’t think the decision taken by ISRO is correct. ISRO has been doing a transparent job and has been a transparent organisation. Just by showing where and how it landed will not affect national security. They have given a lame excuse, that is all,” Dr G Madhavan Nair said. 

The Vikram lander crashed into the lunar surface on Sept. 7, 2019, putting an end to India’s much hyped first attempt to land on the moon. Vikram was part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, whose orbiter continues to return results to this day.

The News Minute said ISRO’s Failure Analysis Committee (FAC) traditionally issues reports on the space agency’s failed missions.

The news website said the only public explanation of the failure came in a written reply by the Prime Minister’s Office to a question from Parliament.

During the second phase of descent, Vikram applied excessive braking force and veered off its planned landing trajectory, the response said.

“Due to this deviation, the initial conditions at the start of the fine braking phase were beyond the designed parameters. As a result, Vikram hard-landed within 500 metres of the designated landing site,” the government said.

Chennai-based engineer Shanmuga Subramanian discovered remains of Vikram about 750 meters from the planned landing area after scouring images returned by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The discovery was later confirmed by the U.S. space agency.

NASA, European Space Agency Formalize Artemis Gateway Partnership

Artemis Gateway orbiting the moon. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and ESA (European Space Agency)  have finalized an agreement to collaborate on the Artemis Gateway. This agreement is an important element in a broad effort by the United States to engage international partners in sustainable lunar exploration and to demonstrate technologies necessary for a future human mission to Mars. The agreement, signed Tuesday, marks NASA’s first formal commitment to launch international crew members to the lunar vicinity as part of NASA’s Artemis missions.

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NASA, ESA Sign MOU to Work Together on Artemis Lunar Program

Lunar Gateway (Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

by Jim Bridenstine
NASA Administrator

Today we announced the first in a series of upcoming commitments from our international partners to support our Artemis plans. NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have signed an agreement committing our space agencies to building the Gateway together. As our outpost in lunar orbit, the Gateway is critical for sustainable exploration of the Moon as well as testing systems and operations for future missions to Mars.

With this Memorandum of Understanding, ESA will provide an additional habitation element, enhanced lunar communications, and a refueling capability to the Gateway later this decade. They will also provide two more European service modules for future Orion spacecraft.

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Canadian Space Agency Launches Public Consultation on Framework for Future Space Exploration Activities

LONGEUEIL, Quebec (CSA PR) — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is working with national and international partners to write the next chapter of space exploration—sending humans to more distant destinations like the Moon and Mars.

These daring missions and emerging space activities pose new challenges. Canada and other countries are working to define the “rules of the road,” a shared framework that will guide the safe and sustainable use of space beyond Earth’s orbit.

Canada will continue its leadership in space by pushing the boundaries of science and technology. Our future space exploration activities will increase our knowledge of our planet and universe and advance research and discoveries that lead to breakthrough science in areas that benefit people on Earth.

All Canadians are invited to share their vision for our future in space.

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NASA, Human Lunar Lander Companies Complete Key Artemis Milestone

An astronaut descends the ladder to explore the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) Program recently checked off a key milestone in its progress toward landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. The HLS Program conducted Certification Baseline Reviews (CBR) with the three U.S. companies  competing to provide landers that will deliver Artemis astronauts to the Moon. These virtual meetings were the culmination of critical work by NASA and the companies since NASA announced the base period selections in April.

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NASA Announces Partners to Advance ‘Tipping Point’ Technologies for the Moon, Mars

NASA and industry have developed and tested numerous technologies to enable long-term cryogenic fluid management, which is essential for establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon and helping crewed missions to Mars. For example, this 13-foot diameter cryogenic storage test tank evaluated technologies to reduce the evaporation or “boil off” propellant losses. Implementation of similar technologies in operational missions requires further maturation through in-space demonstrations. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 14 American companies, including several small businesses, as partners to develop a range of technologies that will help forge a path to sustainable Artemis  operations on the Moon by the end of the decade.

U.S. industry submitted the proposals to NASA’s fifth competitive  Tipping Point solicitation, and the selections have an expected combined award value of more than $370 million. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate will negotiate with the companies to issue milestone-based firm fixed-price contracts lasting for up to five years.

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UK and NASA Sign Artemis Accords Ahead of Mission to the Moon

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency) — NASA’s Artemis programme aims to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. Commercial and international partners will collaborate to achieve a sustainable presence on the lunar surface as a steppingstone to the first human mission to Mars.

The UK will play a key role in this mission. Businesses across the UK will be involved in building the service module and habitation module of the Lunar Gateway, a new space station orbiting the moon, generating economic benefits and high-skilled jobs. The UK has already committed over £16 million for the first phase of the design of these elements.

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Rogozin Say NASA’s Artemis Plans “too American-centric,” See “Great Prospects” for Chinese Cooperation

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Translated from Russian

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Dmitry Rogozin, General Director of the State Corporation Roscosmos, took part in the 71st International Astronautical Congress, which takes place from 12 to 14 October 2020. Due to the epidemiological situation, the congress is being held online for the first time in 70 years of its existence. In his opening remarks, Dmitry Rogozin emphasized the importance of international cooperation in space.

“With regard to the International Space Station, we are negotiating with partners in the program to extend the life of the station until 2028 or 2030. There are various scenarios and options for the further development of the ISS. For our part, we are ready to consider any option offered by our partners and make a joint agreed decision, “the head of Roscosmos said, stressing that the State Corporation is firmly committed to guaranteeing the preservation of Russia’s place in low Earth orbit, regardless of the decisions made regarding service life of the ISS.

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ArianeGroup to Deliver Key Orion Propulsion System Components for Artemis III Moon Mission

Orion near the moon (Credit: NASA)
  • Airbus Defence and Space has placed several propulsion contracts with ArianeGroup for the third European Service Module (ESM) for NASA’s Artemis Moon mission
  • ArianeGroup will be delivering several key components, including the attitude control system, as well as providing propulsion system integration and testing services
  • These contracts follow on from the decisions taken at ESA’s Space 19+ Conference

LAMPOLDSHAUSEN & BREMEN, Germany (ArianeGroup PR) — ArianeGroup has just signed several agreements with Airbus Defence and Space for the adaptation and construction of the third European Service Module (ESM) flight model for the Orion spacecraft. ArianeGroup will therefore:

— provide integration and testing services for the propulsion sub-system, as well as for certain parts of the thermal sub-system and the corresponding electronic sub-systems

— deliver several major components of the propulsion sub-system: notably 24 attitude control engines, two high-pressure regulators, various fuel valves, four fuel tanks, and two high-pressure helium tanks for pressurizing the fuel tanks in zero-gravity conditions

— provide technical support during system integration and acceptance of the Orion spacecraft’s ESM in the United States.

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