While NASA’s decision to award lunar lander development contracts to three companies won praise from a Senate committee, the leaders of the House Science Committee said they remained concerned about NASA’s approach to returning humans to the moon.
NASA announced April 30 it has selected three companies to begin work on designs for human lunar landers, one of which the agency still hopes will be ready to land humans on the moon by the end of 2024.
A new study found that costs on major NASA projects continued to grow in the last year, and warned some of the agency’s highest profile programs will likely face additional cost overruns and delays in the near future.
NASA released a report April 2 outlining its long-term approach to lunar exploration that involves establishing a “base camp” at the south pole of the moon, but with few details about cost and schedule.
NASA is planning to implement changes in the structure of its human spaceflight directorate in the coming weeks, including moving a scientific research program to another part of the agency.
A study by a space propulsion company concludes that a human return to the moon by 2024 will require minimizing the launches needed for the lunar lander and also using storable, rather than cryogenic, propellants.
A revised plan for returning astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024 will no longer rely on the use of a lunar Gateway, although NASA’s human spaceflight head says the agency is still committed to eventually developing it.
When the bipartisan leadership of the House Science Committee introduced a NASA authorization bill Jan. 24, it surprised many people in the civil space community.
In his Feb. 3 SpaceNews opinion piece, Louis Friedman argues that the NASA authorization bill that recently cleared a House space subcommittee is best direction for America in space. The bill, H.R. 5666, would require the United States to abandon the moon after a flags and footprints lunar landing (while effectively preventing commercial firms from participating). We could not disagree more.
A top NASA official said Feb. 28 he expects the first flight of the Space Launch System to take place in the second half of 2021, a later date than prior agency statements.
In a recent SpaceNews Op-ed, Louis Friedman, co-founder and executive director emeritus of The Planetary Society, argues that the U.S. should pursue “a policy more directed to Mars and away from commercial participation. With all due respect to Friedman, I totally disagree. Focusing NASA programs on distant (in space, time, and money) goals can only ensure that U.S. space policy remains empty talk with no action.
The White House is proposing to increase NASA’s budget by more than two and a half billion dollars in fiscal year 2021, providing substantially increased funding for the Artemis program while seeking once again to cancel several science and education programs.
The United States has two choices: compete with developing nations in a new race to the moon, one it could possibly lose; or do what President John F. Kennedy did after the U.S. lost the early rounds of the space race to the Soviet Union — set a more distant goal.
The House space subcommittee approved a NASA authorization bill Jan. 29 that has attracted criticism from NASA and some in the space industry, although members said they plan to continue to refine the bill.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine expressed reservations Jan. 27 about a NASA authorization bill introduced in the House last week that he fears could constrain the agency’s approach to human space exploration.