In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s efforts to meet a new 2024 deadline for a human return to the surface of the Moon and how it will be funded continue to provide a rich topic of discussion with the space community. But the effort, a partnership between NASA and the private sector and international partner, is beginning produce potential significant elements.
Human Space Exploration
SpaceNews.com (5/10): In the aftermath of a March 26 directive from the White House that it return to the surface of the Moon in 2024 with human explorers, NASA has faced two basic questions: how and at what cost. An emerging strategy for the first question includes the Space Launch System (SLS) and third flight of an Orion capsule as well as the first elements of a lunar orbiting Gateway with a power and propulsion module, docking ports and limited space for astronauts. Congress continues to await an amended 2020 budget proposal that could address the cost issue.
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman
NASAspaceflightnow.com (5/11): Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, among a handful of U.S. aerospace companies working on concepts for an early version of a lunar orbiting Gateway capable of supporting a human return to the surface of the Moon by 2024, has completed the test of a mock up at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC). The exercise, part of NASA’s Next-STEP-2 development effort, involved astronauts staying over and performing mission like operations.
Time (5/10): Billionaire Jeff Bezos made news within the space community last week when he unveiled a mock up for Blue Moon, a lunar lander for cargo and humans, and forecast operations by 2024 — the date NASA has been directed by the White House to lead a human return to the surface of the Moon. The publication offers an assessment of the promise and the challenge.
Washington Post (5/11): Anna Fisher, a physician, was among six women selected by NASA in 1978 to train as shuttle astronauts. In the late stages of pregnancy when she was assigned a flight, Fisher would go on to become the first mother in space. The 35th anniversary of the November 1984 flight is approaching.
Wichita Eagle (5/10): Native Kansan and NASA astronaut Nick Hague phoned home Friday — actually to a gathering of school children at the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas. Launched in February to the International Space Station (ISS) in February, Hague explained how his experiences have changed his perspective. “This high up you start to realize how small each one is, but also how we are all connected,” said Hague. “It just makes the Earth seem so much more special, how we’re all part of the Earth.”
NASA (5/10): For the first time, women scientists lead three of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate divisions: Sandra Cauffman, Earth Science; Nicola Fox, Heliophysics; and Lauri Glaze, Planetary Science. “We have an extraordinary group of women responsible for the success of dozens of NASA space missions and research programs, revealing new insights about our planet, Sun and solar system,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. “They are inspiring the next generation of women to become leaders in space exploration as we move forward to put the first woman on the Moon.”
Washington Post (5/13): One major NASA Apollo program legacy is a collection of 850 pounds of lunar rock and soil preserved in the Lunar Sample Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center (JSC). Studies of the samples gathered by Apollo astronauts between July 1969 and December 1972 have helped to explain how the Moon formed, its age, composition and history. Recently, NASA decided to release three pristine, preserved samples of the Apollo material for further study.
Xinhuanet of China (5/11): It turned to lunar night once again over the weekend for China’s Chang’e-4 lander and Yutu-2 rover, which settled onto the surface of the Moon’s south pole on January 3, a space first. The rover has logged more than 190 meters in its journey of exploration.
SpaceNews.com (5/10): U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister Étienne Schneider joined in Luxembourg Friday to sign a memorandum of cooperation in space. Possible areas of cooperation range from space exploration and scientific research to space situational awareness and space commerce
The Hill (5/10): Kilopower, a NASA nuclear power generator fueled by uranium, which has completed a full power test, awaits a flight test. The reactor promises to bring major new capabilities to future space exploration.
Forbes (5/10): After years of uncertainty over the move, Virgin Galactic is moving its development and testing activities from Mojave, California, to Spaceport America in New Mexico. The transition is expected over the summer. The move includes 100 workers and the test spacecraft SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity and the WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve airborne launch platform. The Spaceship Company, which performs manufacturing for Virgin, will remain in Mojave and continue constructing new SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo vehicles.
Major Space Related Activities for the Week
Spacepolicyonline.com (5/12): The National Academy of Sciences will host this year’s Human to Mars Summit Tuesday through Thursday in Washington. A sustained human return to the Moon is to be followed by the human exploration of Mars and beyond. In late March, the White House directed NASA to accelerate a human return to the surface of the Moon from 2028 to 2024. Congress continues to anticipate a revised 2020 budget proposal from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) outlining changes in spending, perhaps coming this week.
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