ispace Unveils Next Generation Lunar Lander for its 3rd Lunar Mission Targeting 2024 Launch

ispace’s Series 2 lunar lander. (Credit: ispace)

The lander, larger in size and payload design capacity, is planned to be designed and manufactured in the US

Colorado Springs, Colo. (ispace PR) – Today, ispace, inc. (ispace) unveiled its next generation lunar lander, Series 2, which the company plans to first use for its third lunar mission (Mission 3), as well as subsequent future missions. Standing at approximately 9 ft tall and 14 ft wide (approx. 2.7 m tall by 4.2 m wide), including its legs, it is larger in both size and customer payload design capacity than ispace’s first-generation lander model, Series 1, which the company is developing for its first and second missions.

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NASA IG Says: Lunar Spacesuits Behind Schedule, Would Not be Ready for 2024 Landing

Artemis and Orion spacesuits. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s 14-year effort to build lunar suits is going to consume more than $1 billion and will deliver working products after the space agency’s goal of landing two astronauts at the moon south pole in 2024, according to a new audit from NASA’s Inspector General.

“NASA’s current schedule is to produce the first two flight-ready xEMUs by November 2024, but the Agency faces significant challenges in meeting this goal,” the report said. “This schedule includes approximately a 20-month delay in delivery for the planned design, verification, and testing suit, two qualification suits, an ISS Demo suit, and two lunar flight suits.

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NASA Statement on GAO Ruling Regarding Human Landing System Protest

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The following is the NASA statement in response to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) decision released Friday on the human landing system protest:

“NASA was notified Friday, July 30, that the U.S. Government Accountability Office has denied the protests filed by Blue Origin Federation and Dynetics and has upheld the agency’s source selection of SpaceX to continue the development of its human landing system. The decision enables NASA to award the contract that will ultimately result in the first crewed demonstration landing on the surface of the Moon under NASA’s Artemis plan. Importantly, the GAO’s decision will allow NASA and SpaceX to establish a timeline for the first crewed landing on the Moon in more than 50 years.

“NASA recognizes that sending American astronauts back to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo program and establishing a long-term presence on the Moon is a priority for the Biden Administration and is imperative for maintaining American leadership in space. In the face of challenges during the last year, NASA and its partners have made significant achievements to advance Artemis, including a successful hot fire test for the Space Launch System rocket. An uncrewed flight of Artemis I is on track for this year and a crewed Artemis II mission is planned for 2023. 

“NASA is moving forward with urgency, but astronaut safety is the priority and the agency will not sacrifice the safety of the crew in the steadfast pursuit of the goal to establish a long-term presence on the Moon.

“As soon as possible, NASA will provide an update on the way ahead for Artemis, the human landing system, and humanity’s return to the Moon. We will continue to work with the Biden Administration and Congress to ensure funding for a robust and sustainable approach for the nation’s return to the Moon in a collaborative effort with U.S. commercial partners.” 

Roscosmos Eyes Crewed Flights from French Guiana, Seeks Partners for Lunar Base with China

A Soyuz-2 launches the CSO-2 defense satellite on Dec. 29, 2020. (Credit: Arianespace)
  • Roscosmos head discussed launching cosmonauts from Kourou with French counterpart
  • Russian-Chinese lunar south pole base is rival to planned U.S. facility
  • Russia to begin design work on new Earth orbiting station by late summer

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Roscosmos is exploring the possibility of launching spacecraft from the Guiana Space Centre in South America that would carry cosmonauts to the new Chinese space station and a base that Russia and China plan to build at the lunar south pole, according to media reports. Russia is also beginning work on a new Earth orbiting space station.

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ULA’s Bruno Denies Igniter Problems with Vulcan Centaur’s BE-4 Engine

In a recent report, the GAO — Government Accountability Office — had reported technical issues with the Blue Origin produced BE-4 engine that will power United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket.

Vulcan Centaur’s first flight will launch Astrobotic Technology’s Peregrine on a mission to land on the moon. That flight was scheduled for the end of 2021, but it has slipped into next year due to COVID-19 pandemic related delays with Peregrine.

Masten Mission to Lunar South Shifted 11 Months to Late 2023

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022. (Credits: Masten Space Systems)

MOJAVE, Calif., June 23, 2021 (Masten Space Systems PR) – Masten Space Systems is proud to be one of NASA’s providers for lunar delivery services to the Moon as part of the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. Masten Mission 1 includes delivery of science and technology instruments near the Haworth Crater at the lunar south pole, a site expected to offer insight into the presence of important volatiles on the Moon. In addition to commercial payloads, Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver and operate eight NASA-sponsored payloads to assess the composition of the lunar surface, evaluate radiation, and detect volatiles, such as water, methane, and carbon dioxide, under the agency’s Artemis program.

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NASA Artemis Program Faces Significant Challenges on Human Lunar Landing in 2024

Artist concept of the SpaceX Starship on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The combination of an ambitious schedule, technical challenges and immature technology will make it difficult for NASA to meet its goal of landing two astronauts on the moon in 2024, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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NASA Deep Space Exploration Budget Request Fact Sheet

Artist concept of the SpaceX Starship on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: SpaceX)

NASA FACT SHEET
FY 2022 Budget Request
Deep Space Exploration Systems
($ Millions)

The FY 2022 Budget for the Deep Space Exploration Systems account consists of two areas, Exploration Systems Development (ESD) and Exploration Research and Development (ERD), which provide for the development of systems and capabilities needed for the human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

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NASA’s Space Launch System Core Stage Heads to Kennedy Space Center

Artemis I core stage leaves Stennis Space Center on the Pegasus barge. (Credit: NASA)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — The first core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket departs Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, following completion of the Green Run series of tests of its design and systems. The stage now is in route to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, its final stop prior to NASA’s launch of the Artemis I mission around the Moon. At Kennedy, the core stage will be integrated with the rest of the SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft in preparation for launch. Through the Artemis program, NASA will return humans, including the first woman and first person of color, to the Moon and prepare for eventual journeys to Mars.

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Artemis Moonwalkers, Space Station to Use Spacewalk Services Developed Through NASA-Industry Partnerships

Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is preparing to send humans back to the Moon through the Artemis program, not just to walk and explore, but to develop a sustainable presence. The next generation of moonwalkers will need a whole new suite of spacesuits and support systems to enable exploration of the inhospitable environment at the lunar South Pole for the first time.

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Nelson Sails Through Senate Nomination Hearing, Backs NASA Human Landing System Award

Bill Nelson

Former senator Bill Nelson appearance before the Senate Commerce Committee this week turned into a mutual admiration society with legislators and the nominee for NASA administrator exchanging compliments and largely agreeing on the future direction of the space agency.

Barring some unexpected development, the Senate Commerce Committee should easily approve Nelson’s nomination and forward it to the full Senate, where it is likely to pass by a wide margin.

The only fireworks that were expected prior to the hearing involved NASA’s controversial decision last week to award a $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX to build the Human Landing System to take astronauts to the lunar surface as part of the Artemis program.

Some legislators have questions the decision to award a single contract instead of making multiple awards to maintain competition and give NASA redundancy. Losing bidders included Dynetics and Blue Origin’s National Team, which included Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper.

Nelson voiced support for the award and the goal of landing two astronauts at the lunar south pole by the end of 2024.

“I think you may be pleased that we’re gonna see that timetable try to be adhered to, but recognize that with some sobering reality that space is hard,” Nelson said.

The SpaceX contract covers an uncrewed and crewed lunar landings by the company’s Starship vehicle. NASA plans to open another competition for taking crews and cargo to the lunar surface as the agency builds a base on the moon.

DLR to Land Radiation Instrument on Moon with Astrobotic Peregrine Mission One

A rendering of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander is shown, with NASA’s three water-detecting payloads (MSolo, NSS, and NIRVSS) highlighted in blue. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology)

PITTSBURGH, Pa., April 22, 2021 (Astrobotic PR) — The German Aerospace Center (DLR) joins a mission with Astrobotic to land a special German-built instrument on the Moon onboard Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander in 2021.  DLR will send this radiation detector to measure key radiation data on the flight to the Moon and on the lunar surface ahead of the upcoming NASA Artemis missions that will send the first woman and the next man to the Moon.

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Surprise! NASA Artemis Lunar Program Schedule Likely to Slip Again, 2024 Landing Unlikely

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

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The latest in a series of updates from NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) says that despite making significant progress on the $86 billion Artemis program, the space agency’s schedule for returning astronauts to the moon in four years is likely to slip. [Full report]

“Nonetheless, the Agency faces significant challenges that we believe will make its current plan to launch Artemis I in 2021 and ultimately land astronauts on the Moon by the end of 2024 highly unlikely,” the update said.

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