Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 17th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… U.S. House appropriators grow impatient over lack of an Artemis cost estimate and express concerns and accelerated return to the Moon with human explorers may jeopardize funding for other programs. NASA extends Boeing’s contract for the Space Launch System. Aerojet Rocketdyne conducts final test of Orion crew capsule abort system motor. NASA selects Douglas Loverro, a space national security veteran, as the new Associate Administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

Human Space Exploration

Serrano worries about who will pay for accelerating Moon program (10/16): NASA’s bid to win U.S. House approval for a $1.6 billion budget supplement for the 2020 fiscal year that began October 1 met with resistance from leadership of the Commerce Justice and Science and Related Agencies subcommittee during a hearing Wednesday in which NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was called to testify. U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano, of New York, the chair, questioned the urgency of accelerating a human return to the lunar surface from 2028 to 2024, the reason for the $1.6 billion supplement, which is to kick off the initiative called Artemis. Congress has yet to receive a formal total cost estimate for Artemis. Serrano characterized the acceleration as “political” and a budget threat to educational and other programs that help low income Americans.

Lawmakers grill NASA chief on Moon-by-2024 budget, schedule (10/16): During a two hour hearing Wednesday, members of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s commerce, justice, science and related agencies subcommittee pressed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine for details on future budget requests for Artemis, the initiative to accelerate a human return to the surface of the Moon from 2028 to 2024. Bridenstine said the total cost estimate should be available early next year as the White House budget request for 2021 is submitted.

NASA extends contract with Boeing for SLS rocket, paving the way for up to 10 Artemis missions
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (10/16): NASA on Wednesday announced a contract agreement with Boeing for the production of 10 future Space Launch System (SLS) core stages and up to eight Exploration Upper Stages, enough rocketry to back the launch of a dozen Artemis missions, the NASA led commercial and international initiative to return human explorers to the surface of the Moon and proceed to establish a sustainable human presence. Up to 10 more SLS core stages could be ordered by NASA under the agreement.

Alabama test firing show Orion capsule escape motor works
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Lockheed Martin (10/16): Rocket engine company Aerojet Rocketdyne successfully qualified its Launch Abort System motor for the Orion capsule in a test-firing today at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. The motor will pull the capsule and its astronaut crew off the Space Launch System (SLS) if something goes wrong during launchю

NASA hires Loverro to lead human spaceflight (10/16): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Wednesday announced the selection of Doug Loverro, a much tenured veteran of national security space, as the agency’s new associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Directorate. He succeeds William Gerstenmaier, who was reassigned in early July as a senior agency adviser. “He’s somebody who’s worked in space for a very long time, and very successful in program management,” said Bridenstine of Loverro. “His record of bipartisan work, strong program management, and leadership roles in national space policy provide him with a strong foundation to lead NASA’s human exploration and operations programs” Coalition for Deep Space Exploration President and CEO Mary Lynne Dittmar said in a statement released by the organization. Ken Bowersox, the former NASA astronaut, who filled the administrative role during the selection process resumes his duties as deputy associate administrator.

Space Science

2021 Moon rover will have legs instead of wheels
Coalition Member in the News – Astrobotic (10/14): The British lunar rover planned for a 2021 mission will feature legs, not wheels. With legs, the Spacebit creation may have access to regions of the lunar surface not accessible to a rover, like steep, rocky terrain.

Moon VIPER: NASA wants to send a water-sniffing rover to the lunar south pole in 2022 (10/16): In 2022, NASA would like to place the Volatiles Investigation Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, on the surface of the Moon at the south pole to assess the region for water ice, which is considered a potential resource for future human explorers as well as the raw material to produce liquid hydrogen and oxygen rocket propellants. NASA’s Artemis initiative seeks to return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers in 2024, with a landing at the south pole.

Other News

NASA paid SpaceX for safety review after Musk smoked pot (10/16): A review of financial documents reveals that NASA paid SpaceX $5 million for a review of the company’s workplace environment after founder Elon Musk engaged in a 2018 pot smoking incident. Though a federal infraction, the use of marijuana in California, where the incident took place, is considered legal.

Virgin Galactic unveils jumpsuit for space tourists
New York Times (10/16): Virgin Galactic, the emerging suborbital space passenger service, unveiled the striking blue space suit garment developed with Under Armour that paying customers will don as they take a seat aboard SpaceShipTwo for a high altitude peak at the Earth and several minutes of weightlessness.

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