U.S. Companies Advance Critical Human Lander Technologies

Compilation of artist’s renderings representing NextSTEP Appendix E work. Top row, left to right: Dynetics, Lockheed Martin, Blue Origin. Bottom row, left to right: Aerojet Rocketdyne, Northrop Grumman, Masten Space System, Boeing. (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA and 11 commercial partners recently completed a series of technical studies, demonstrations and ground prototypes for 21st Century human landing systems. The Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Appendix E work helped the agency refine its Artemis program requirements for the companies competing to build the landers that will take American astronauts to the Moon throughout this decade.

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Head of NASA Human Spaceflight Resigns on Eve of SpaceX Crew Dragon Flight

Douglas Loverro (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The head of NASA’s human spaceflight program has resigned three days before a flight readiness review (FRR) for the first human spaceflight from U.S. soil in nearly nine years.

Douglas Loverro, associate administrator for the human exploration and operations (HEO), resigned on Monday — nine days before a Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley and aboard is scheduled to be launched by a Falcon 9 rocket on May 27.

Loverro, who took on the job in December, was to have presided over a two-day review set to begin this Thursday on whether to go ahead with the crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Loverro would have made the final go/no decision.

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Roscosmos Official: U.S.-Russian Space Cooperation Deteriorating

Roscosmos boss Dmitry Rogozin meets with Russia’s boss of bosses, President Vladimir Putin. (Credit: Russian President’s Office)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin is apparently U.S. President Donald Trump’s favorite autocratic ruler, cooperation between the two nations on future space projects are breaking down, a high-ranking Roscosmos official said.

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Orion Makes Significant Progress, Awaits Ride to the Moon

Orion undergoing testing at Plum Brook. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s Orion crew vehicle has made good progress over the past year, with the completion of a launch abort test and thermal vacuum testing on the spacecraft scheduled to an automated flight test around the moon next year, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Although Orion has suffered delays and budget overruns during development, the Space Launch System (SLS) that will send it to the moon is even more behind schedule due to development problems, the report found.

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New SLS Worry: Leaks

NASA’s Ground Transportation team guides NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s completed core stage from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to the agency’s Pegasus barge on Jan. 8. (Credits: NASA/Tyler Martin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The latest Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of NASA’s massive Space Launch System (SLS) has a depressingly familiar ring to it. Tell me if you’ve heard this before:

  • schedule continues to slip
  • costs continue to rise
  • core stage could develop fuel leaks.

Yeah, that does sound famil– Wait…WHAT?!?

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Astrobotic to Develop New Commercial Payload Service for NASA’s Human Landing System

Artist concept of the Dynetics Human Landing System on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: Dynetics)

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic proudly announces that it is has been selected to develop and lead a new commercial payload service onboard the Dynetics Human Landing System (HLS). Dynetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, was recently announced as one of three awardees by NASA to develop a new commercial lunar lander for NASA’s Artemis Program. The design and development of HLS for Artemis will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. With this new approach, the human lander will not only carry astronaut crews but also commercial payload shipments.

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Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Praises NASA Lunar Lander Awards

WASHINGTON (Senate Commerce Committee PR) – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today released the following statement after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the selection of three from among five bidders to study and design the Artemis Human Landing System (HLS). These U.S. companies will produce a design, mission concept, and plan for the Artemis HLS, two of which NASA will eventually select for production.

“The Apollo Program was possible only because of public investments in spacefaring technologies,” said Wicker. “Making good use of commercial partnerships lowers the long-term cost of space exploration, and it allows the American aerospace industry to do what it does best – innovate. These competitors’ designs will play a major role in producing a brand-new human lander that will enable our astronauts to access important areas of the Moon’s surface and sustain our nation’s deep space exploration efforts.”

In November 2019, the NASA Authorization Act was reported favorably by the Committee. The bill broadly supports and authorizes funding for NASA’s Artemis program and a commercial services acquisition strategy for lunar landers.  

The Commerce Committee exercises jurisdiction over NASA.

Thales Alenia Space Part of Dynetics’ Human Landing System Team

Artist concept of the Dynetics Human Landing System on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: Dynetics)

TURIN, Italy May 1st, 2020  (Thales Alenia Space) — Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has been selected by Dynetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, serving as prime contractor, to partner for the study development phase of the pressurized cabin of the NASA Human Landing System (HLS).

The international consortium led by Dynetics is one among other teams appointed by NASA to compete during the initial design and development phase of the Human Landing System until the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) milestone.

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SNC to Lead Crew Module Development for Critical Piece of NASA’s Artemis Program

Artist concept of the Dynetics Human Landing System on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: Dynetics)

SPARKS, Nev., April 30, 2020 (SNC PR) –  Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader owned by Eren and Faith Ozmen, has been selected as a subcontractor to Dynetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, to provide key crew module technology for NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) program. This program is a critical piece of the agency’s Artemis program for lunar exploration.

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A Closer Look at Lunar Landers Proposed by Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX

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

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA announced that three U.S. companies will develop the human landers that will land astronauts on the Moon beginning in 2024 as part of the Artemis program. These human landers are the final piece of the transportation chain required for sustainable human exploration of the Moon, which includes the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, and the Gateway outpost in lunar orbit. 

The awardees for NASA’s Human Landing System contracts are Blue Origin of Kent, Washington, Dynetics (a Leidos company) of Huntsville, Alabama, and SpaceX of Hawthorne, California. These teams offered three distinct lander and mission designs, which will drive a broader range of technology development and, ultimately, more sustainability for lunar surface access. 

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2019: A Busy Year in Suborbital Flight

Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable, suborbital rocket. (Credits: Blue Origin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Last year was a busy one for suborbital flights as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic conducted a combined four flights of their crewed suborbital vehicles. Despite hopes to the contrary, neither company flew paying tourists on their spaceships.

There were also 26 sounding rocket launches that carried scientific experiments and technology payloads above the atmosphere. The year saw:

  • Japanese startup Interstellar Technologies conduct a successful launch of its Momo commercial sounding rocket;
  • Texas-based Exos Aerospace continue to struggle with its reusable SARGE booster; and,
  • the first suborbital launch ever achieved by college students.
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NASA Gains Broad International Support for Artemis Program at IAC

Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — When NASA sends the first woman and next man to the surface of the Moon by 2024 as part of its Artemis program, it won’t be going alone. The agency will be leveraging support from commercial partners and the international community as it establishes a sustainable presence on the lunar surface by 2028, paving the way for human missions to Mars.

Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), held in Washington Oct. 21-25, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine reaffirmed America’s commitment to working with international partners on NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.

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White House Wants Congress to Provide More Money for Artemis, Dump SLS as Europa Mission Launcher

The core stage test team recently completed structural testing confirming the stage’s liquid hydrogen tank structural design is good for conditions that will be experienced in the rocket’s initial configuration, called Block 1, during the Artemis I launch. (Credits: NASA/Tyler Martin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The White House wants Congress to provide more money for the Artemis moon landing program, and to save about $1.5 billion by dropping the requirement that NASA launch the Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter’s icy moon on the Space Launch System (SLS).

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NASA’s Coating Technology Could Help Resolve Lunar Dust Challenge

Astronaut John Young salutes the flag on the moon during the Apollo 16 mission. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — An advanced coating now being tested aboard the International Space Station for use on satellite components could also help NASA solve one of its thorniest challenges: how to keep the Moon’s irregularly shaped, razor-sharp dust grains from adhering to virtually everything they touch, including astronauts’ spacesuits.

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Boeing Proposes ‘Fewest Steps to the Moon’ for NASA’s Human Lander

Following exploration of the lunar surface by astronauts, the crew lifts off from the moon inside the Ascent Element in this artist concept. The Descent Element remains on the moon having already performed its role of flying the crew from lunar orbit to the surface. (Credit: Boeing)

HOUSTON, Nov. 5, 2019  (Boeing PR) — Boeing [NYSE: BA] today submitted a proposal to NASA for an integrated Human Lander System (HLS) designed to safely take astronauts to the surface of the moon and return them to lunar orbit as part of the Artemis space exploration program.

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