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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NASA Reaches New Milestone on Complex, Large Rocket

Paul Diaz, a Boeing technician, installs one of 360 bolts to connect the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s massive liquid hydrogen tank to the core stage’s intertank at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Next, the engine section and the four engines will be attached to complete assembly of the stage for the Artemis 1 mission to the Moon. (Credits: NASA/Eric Bordelon)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA achieved a significant milestone in manufacturing the first large, complex core stage that will help power the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on upcoming missions to the Moon. NASA and lead contractor Boeing have assembled four-fifths of the massive core stage needed to launch SLS and the Orion spacecraft on their first mission to the Moon: Artemis 1.

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SNC Tapped to Support Accelerated Moon Mission

Descent element for human lunar lander. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev., June 5, 2019 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader owned by SNC CEO Fatih Ozmen, and Chairwoman and President Eren Ozmen, has been chosen to develop prototypes of key human lander elements for NASA’s accelerated Artemis lunar exploration program. During the next six months, SNC will perform studies and develop prototypes to help NASA reduce schedule risk for the descent, transfer and refueling elements of a potential human landing system.

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MOONRISE: Melting Moon Dust with a Laser

A laser on a lunar rover. (Credit: LZH)

HANNOVER, Germany (LZH PR) — The moon – Earth satellite, first waypost on the way to other planets, enormously important for space research: With the ambitious MOONRISE project, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Institute of Space Systems (IRAS) of the Technical University of Braunschweig are aiming at melting moon dust with a laser in order to make it usable as building material.

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NASA Updates Work on Lunar Gateway Habitat

Credit: NASA

Even as NASA’s plans for the Lunar Gateway evolve, the space agency is continuing work on developing a habitat for the crew that will use the facility as an orbiting base for the study of the Moon.

Credit: NASA

Marshall Smith, the space agency’s director of Human Lunar Exploration Programs, gave a press report on habitat development to the NASA Advisory Council Human Exploration & Operations Committee last week.

Credit: NASA

Five companies were commission to produce prototypes for evaluation and testing: Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Sierra Nevada Corporation.

Credit: NASA

Smith’s presentation did not include a slide on Bigelow Aerospace’s prototype module.

Credit: NASA

NASA to Test Sensors for Precision Moon Landings on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

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

NASA Contract Award
NASA Langley Research Center
Hampton, Virginia

Blue Origin, LLC
Kent, Washington
Amount: $1,301,743

Synopsis:

The work will include the integration of NASA developed technology into Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch vehicle, providing opportunities to mature critical sensor technology and algorithms that enable precision and soft landing. Testing will be performed at approximately 100 km altitude on-board the flight proven New Shepard vertical takeoff vertical landing (VTVL) suborbital vehicle.

Blue Origin and NASA will use the flight data to anchor analyses and models and support follow-on ground-based algorithm testing and development. The NASA-developed sensor suite will enable Blue Moon to precisely land anywhere on the lunar surface, from the equator to the poles, from the rim of Shackleton crater to permanently shadowed regions, from the far side locations on the South Pole/Aitken basin to lunar lava tubes.

This contract addresses three high-level technology objectives:

1. Demonstrate the performance of NASA-developed precision landing sensor and processing technology (including, but not limited to, Descent Landing Computer (DLC), Navigation Doppler Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR, NDL) and Landing Vision System (LVS) in an operating envelope (altitude, velocity, and vehicle environments) from space environments through soft propulsive landing operations on a commercial vehicle (the New Shepard Propulsion Module).

2. Demonstrate a commercial guidance and navigation system for safe and accurate lunar landings using NASA-developed Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) and Hazard Detection and Avoidance (HDA) algorithms as part of a Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) simulation environment.

3. Develop and demonstrate a Flash LiDAR (FL) prototype for hazard detection derived from NASA-developed Flash LiDAR sensor design.

NASA Tasks OrbitBeyond with Commercial Lunar Lander Mission

Orbit Beyond of Edison, New Jersey, has proposed to fly as many as four payloads to a lava plain in one of the Moon’s craters. (Credit: Orbit Beyond)

PORT ORANGE, Fla. (Orbit Beyond PR) — NASA announced today that OrbitBeyond has been selected as one of the first robotic missions to carry NASA science payloads to the surface of the Moon under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program, ushering in a new era of deep space commercial services in support of NASA’s plans to send astronauts to the Moon by 2024.

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NASA Awards $77.2 Million Contract to Inituitive Machines for Lunar Lander

Intuitive Machines of Houston has proposed to fly as many as five payloads to a scientifically intriguing dark spot on the Moon. (Credit: Intuitive Machines)

HOUSTON, May 31, 2019 – Intuitive Machines will join NASA’s new era of lunar exploration with a robotic landing on the Moon in 2021, under a contract award announced today by NASA.

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Astrobotic Awarded $79.5 Million Contract to Deliver 14 NASA Payloads to Moon

Astrobotic of Pittsburgh has proposed to fly as many as 14 payloads to a large crater on the near side of the Moon. (Credit: Astrobotic)

PITTSBURGH and WASHINGTON, DC (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic was selected today by NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to deliver 14 payloads to the Moon on its Peregrine lunar lander in July 2021. With this $79.5 million CLPS award, Astrobotic has now secured 28 payloads for lunar delivery as part of its first mission. Fifty years after Apollo 11, Pittsburgh’s Astrobotic is returning America back to the Moon in partnership with NASA.

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NASA to Announce Selection of Science Commercial Moon Landing Services on Friday

Moon (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will announce the next major step in the Artemis program’s lunar surface exploration plans during a NASA Science Live broadcast at 1 p.m. EDT Friday, May 31. The announcement will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Paving the way to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon, and ultimately Mars, NASA will announce the selection of the first commercial Moon landing service providers that will deliver science and technology payloads as part of the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS). These missions will acquire new science measurements and enable important technology demonstrations, whose data will inform the development of future landers and other exploration systems needed for astronauts to return to the Moon by 2024.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate, will host this special edition of NASA Science Live.

The public can send questions during the event using the hashtag #askNASA.

Following the announcement, NASA will host a media teleconference at 2:30 p.m.

The teleconference audio will stream live at:

https://www.nasa.gov/live

For more information about NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration plans, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/moontomars

U.S. Postal Service Issuing First Moon Landing Forever Stamps

On July 19, 2019, the U.S. Postal Service will issue these stamps commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. (Credits: U.S. Postal Service)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon: an achievement that had long been confined to the realm of science fiction. A breathless world watched as Armstrong stepped onto the Moon’s surface and famously said, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”

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Mark Sirangelo’s Resignation Letter to Jim Bridenstine

Mark Sirangelo (Credit: SNC)

May 20, 2019

Jim,

Over the last couple of months we have accomplished much together and it has been truly exciting. After having gone through an evaluation of our conversations and the future path you have outlined for NASA it is with regret that I believe that it is time for me to end my role as the Special Assistant to the Administrator.

I truly appreciate that you reached out to me earlier this year to join NASA in support of the developmental to return the U.S. to the Moon. It was such a challenging and amazing opportunity that it led me to halt all the other aspects of my life to join you and NASA. As NASA wished to expedite my entry, NASA offered, and I agreed upon the position of Special Assistant as an interim role. This role was to help develop the top-level technical path, budget and potential future management structures for the America’s Lunar 2024 challenge with the understanding that a further Agency level role might develop for me from this.

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NASA Prepares for Future Moon Exploration with International Undersea Crew

The pictured NEEMO 22 diver is collecting a scientific sample for coral research using proxy tools, techniques, technologies, and training envisioned for future NASA planetary science exploration missions. (Credit: NASA)

MIAMI (NASA PR) — NASA will join an international crew on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean this summer to prepare for future deep space missions during the 10-day NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 23 expedition slated to begin June 10.

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Mark Sirangelo Departs NASA After 44 Days

Mark Sirangelo (Credit: SNC)

Well, that was fast.

On April 9, NASA announced the appointment of Mark Sirangelo as a special assistant to Administrator Jim Bridenstine for the purpose of overseeing the space agency’s plan to land astronauts on the moon by 2024.

On Thursday, Bridenstine announced that his new assistant is departing the agency. Sirangelo’s tenure lasted 44 days.

In announcing the appointment last month, Bridenstine said Sirangelo would

lead the planning for the proposed agency restructuring to create the Moon to Mars Mission Directorate that will manage the programs to develop the Gateway, human rated lander and surface systems to return to the Moon and establish a permanent presence. The new proposed Directorate will also manage the Exploration Research and Technology programs to enable capabilities for exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Yesterday, the NASA administrator blamed House and Senate members for refusing to approve the creation of the Moon to Mars Mission Directorate.

The proposal was not accepted at this time, so we will move forward under our current organizational structure within the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEO). We are exploring what organizational changes within HEO are necessary to ensure we maximize efficiencies and achieve the end state of landing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.

As you also may know, Mark Sirangelo has been serving as an advisor on our lunar exploration plan and the reorganizational proposal that went forward to Congress. Given NASA is no longer pursuing the new mission directorate, Mark has opted to pursue other opportunities. I want to personally thank Mark for his service and his valuable contributions to the agency.

Sirangelo previously served as head of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems and CEO of SpaceDev, its predecessor company. He resigned from the company in July 2018 and became a scholar in residence at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The announcement came on the same day NASA announced the awarding of a $375 million contract to Maxar Technologies for the power and propulsion element of the human-tended Lunar Gateway. The facility will serve as a base for human missions to and from the lunar surface.