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posted by martyb on Saturday July 13 2019, @05:20PM   Printer-friendly
from the See-also:-Current-Poll dept.

After shocking leadership shakeup at NASA, new head of human exploration says moon 2024 is doable:

Less than 24 hours after being named head of human exploration at NASA, former astronaut Ken Bowersox said the agency is trying to speed up decision-making in its quest to reach the moon by 2024.

"The key is we need to fly when we're ready, but if we don't shoot for 2024 we have zero chance," Bowersox said Thursday at the American Astronautical Society's John Glenn Memorial Symposium. "Our attitude is to get as much of this going as we can — to move as fast as we can, as long as we can."

Bowersox' brief remarks in Cleveland follow the shocking announcement Wednesday night that Bill Gerstenmaier — a pillar in NASA's human exploration operations since 2005 — was out as the agency's associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

The announcement was made in a Wednesday email to NASA employees from Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "As you know, NASA has been given a bold challenge to put the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024, with a focus on the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars," he wrote. "In an effort to meet this challenge, I have decided to make leadership changes." He then named Bowersox — a 62-year-old veteran of five space shuttle flights — as Gerstenmaier's replacement.

The decision — which surprised many in the space community — comes as NASA continues a years-long struggle to keep its human exploration plans on track. Projects such as the Space Launch System rocket being built to launch humans to the moon and the commercial crew program, meant to alleviate the country's reliance on Russia for transportation to the International Space Station, are years behind schedule.

See also: To the Moon and beyond

Related: 2020s to Become the Decade of Lunar Re-Exploration
NASA Chief Says a Falcon Heavy Rocket Could Fly Humans to the Moon
Here's Why NASA's Audacious Return to the Moon Just Might Work
Lockheed Martin Proposes Streamlined Lunar Gateway for 2024 Manned Lunar Landing
Artemis: NASA to Receive $1.6 Billion for 2024 Manned Moon Landing
NASA Orders First Segment of Lunar Station for 2024 Artemis Moon Mission
Project Artemis: Return to the Moon to Cost Another $20-30 Billion


Original Submission

Related Stories

2020s to Become the Decade of Lunar Re-Exploration 56 comments

NASA is going back to the Moon, perhaps permanently, as seen in a new road map (image):

Four months after President Trump directed NASA to return to the Moon, the agency has presented a road map to meet the goals outlined in Space Policy Directive-1. The updated plan shifts focus from the previous "Journey to Mars" campaign back to the Moon, and—eventually—to the Red Planet.

"The Moon will play an important role in expanding human presence deeper into the solar system," said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA, in a release issued by the agency.

While the revamped plan may share the same destination as the Apollo program, NASA said it will approach the return in a more measured and sustainable manner. Unlike humanity's first trip to the Moon, the journey back will incorporate both commercial and international partners.

To achieve this, NASA has outlined four strategic goals:

  • Transition low-Earth orbit (LEO) human spaceflight activities to commercial operators.
  • Expand long-duration spaceflight activities to include lunar orbit.
  • Facilitate long-term robotic lunar exploration.
  • Use human exploration of the Moon as groundwork for eventual human missions to Mars and beyond.

This may be the best outcome for the space program. Let NASA focus on the Moon with an eye towards permanently stationing robots and humans there, and let SpaceX or someone else take the credit for a 2020s/early-2030s manned Mars landing. Then work on a permanent presence on Mars using cheaper rocket launches, faster propulsion technologies, better radiation shielding, hardier space potatoes, etc.

Previously: President Trump Signs Space Policy Directive 1

Related:


Original Submission

NASA Chief Says a Falcon Heavy Rocket Could Fly Humans to the Moon 24 comments

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

NASA chief says a Falcon Heavy rocket could fly humans to the Moon

[...] Until now, it was thought that only NASA's Space Launch System could directly inject the Orion spacecraft into a lunar orbit, which made it the preferred option for getting astronauts to the Moon for any potential landing by 2024. However, [NASA Administrator Jim] Bridenstine said there was another option: a Falcon Heavy rocket with an Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage built by United Launch Alliance.

[...] This plan has the ability to put humans on the Moon by 2024, Bridenstine said. He then emphasized—twice—that NASA's chief of human spaceflight, William Gerstenmaier, has yet to bless this approach due to a number of technical details. His reservations include the challenge of integrating the Falcon Heavy rocket in a horizontal position and then loading Orion with fuel in a vertical configuration on the launchpad. The Falcon Heavy would also require a larger payload fairing than it normally flies with. This would place uncertain stress on the rocket's side-mounted boosters.

"It would require time [and] cost, and there is risk involved," Bridenstine said. "But guess what—if we're going to land boots on the Moon in 2024, we have time, and we have the ability to accept some risk and make some modifications. All of that is on the table. There is nothing sacred here that is off the table. And that is a potential capability that could help us land boots on the Moon in 2024."


Original Submission

Here's Why NASA's Audacious Return to the Moon Just Might Work 42 comments

Here's why NASA's audacious return to the Moon just might work

Speaking in front of a high-fidelity model of the Apollo program's Lunar Module spacecraft, Vice President Mike Pence charged NASA with accelerating its Moon plans last week. Instead of 2028, Pence wanted boots on the ground four years earlier, before the end of 2024. This marked the rarest of all moments in spaceflight—a schedule moving left instead of to the right.

Understandably, the aerospace community greeted the announcement with a healthy dose of skepticism. Many rocket builders, spaceship designers, flight controllers, and space buffs have seen this movie before. Both in 1989 and 2004, Republican administrations have announced ambitious Moon-then-Mars deep space plans only to see them die for lack of funding and White House backing.

And yet, this new proposal holds some promise. Pence, as well as NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, have adopted a clear goal for the agency and promised enduring political support. Moreover, they have said the "end" matters more than the "means." This suggests that whatever rockets and spacecraft NASA uses to reach the Moon, the plan should be based on the best-available, most cost-effective technology. In short, they want to foster a healthy, open competition in the US aerospace industry to help NASA and America reach its goals.

Lockheed Martin Proposes Streamlined Lunar Gateway for 2024 Manned Lunar Landing 12 comments

Lockheed Martin offers architecture for 2024 human lunar landing

Lockheed Martin says it has developed an approach to achieving the goal of landing humans on the south pole of the moon by 2024, but warns that construction of essential hardware would have to start soon to meet that deadline.

In a briefing at the 35th Space Symposium here April 10, company officials said they can make extensive use of existing hardware to develop components like a scaled-down version of the lunar Gateway and a two-stage lunar lander on an accelerated schedule.

While many details have yet to be worked out, the basic elements of the plan, Lockheed argues, demonstrates that the ability to meet the 2024 deadline established March 26 by Vice President Mike Pence in a National Space Council speech is at least technically feasible, if challenging.

[...] Lockheed's plan would diverge from NASA's old approach after Exploration Mission (EM) 1, an uncrewed test of the Orion spacecraft launched by the Space Launch System in 2020. The company proposes launching a "Phase 1" Gateway in 2022 consisting of just the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and a small habitation module with docking ports. NASA expects to issue awards for the PPE in May, while the habitation module could be adapted from ongoing studies that are part of NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, or NextSTEP, program.

Also at Space.com.

See also: Falcon Heavy's first commercial flight is 'huge' as 'an inflection point' for SpaceX, banker says

Previously: Is the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway the Right Way to the Moon?
Canada Will Contribute to the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway
Here's Why NASA's Audacious Return to the Moon Just Might Work


Original Submission

Artemis: NASA to Receive $1.6 Billion for 2024 Manned Moon Landing 47 comments

Trump adds $1.6 billion to NASA budget request to kick start 'Artemis' moon mission

The Trump administration is adding an additional $1.6 billion to NASA's $21 billion 2020 budget request to kick start plans to return American astronauts to the moon in 2024, four years earlier than previously planned, NASA announced Monday. In a surprise announcement, agency Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the revitalized moon program will be named Artemis after the Greek goddess of the moon.

[...] According to a NASA fact sheet, the new budget request includes $1 billion "to enable NASA to being supporting the development of commercial human lunar landing systems three years earlier than previously envisioned. This acquisition strategy will allow NASA to purchase an integrated commercial lunar lander that will transport astronauts from lunar orbit to the lunar surface and back."

Gateway development will be limited to what is needed to make the station a viable staging base for trips to the surface. That will free up $321 million for other moon spending. An additional $651 million is earmarked for the Space Launch System — SLS — heavy lift rocket and Orion spacecraft. Lunar surface technologies and propulsion systems would receive an additional $132 million with $90 million going to robotic exploration and research near the moon's south pole.

[...] The same day Bridenstine talked of the challenge of landing on the moon, Amazon-founder Jeff Bezos unveiled a lunar lander called Blue Moon that could put 6.5 metric tons on the surface of the moon. He said Blue Moon, carrying an ascent stage, could meet NASA's schedule for landing astronauts on the surface by 2024.

Previously: NASA Chief Says a Falcon Heavy Rocket Could Fly Humans to the Moon
Here's Why NASA's Audacious Return to the Moon Just Might Work
Lockheed Martin Proposes Streamlined Lunar Gateway for 2024 Manned Lunar Landing


Original Submission

NASA Orders First Segment of Lunar Station for 2024 Artemis Moon Mission 10 comments

According to Extreme Tech,

NASA is going back to the Moon, and this time, it intends to stay a while. That's the news from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who announced the first company chosen to deliver a vital component of the space agency's Lunar Gateway space station. Maxar Technologies will build the power and propulsion system for the Lunar Gateway, the first step in NASA's ambitious new Artemis project that will put humans on the Moon's surface in just five years.

"This time when we go to the Moon, we're actually going to stay," Bridenstine said. "The goal here is speed. 2024 is right around the corner."

But then, there is this:

May 24 (UPI) -- Just weeks after he was assigned to lead NASA's renewed efforts to explore the moon, special assistant Mark Sirangelo has left the space agency, officials said.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Sirangelo's departure in an internal memo Thursday, Space News reported.

Sirangelo joined NASA last month as special assistant to the administrator and was tabbed to guide the agency's efforts to explore the lunar surface. Bridenstine said, however, that NASA's proposal for the "Moon to Mars Mission Directorate", which had support from the White House, was turned down by Congress.

"NASA proposed to the House and Senate a reorganization to establish a new mission directorate focused on a sustainable lunar campaign," Bridenstine said in a statement. "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."

The mission was first announced in March to meet Vice President Mike Pence's goal of returning humans on the moon by 2024.

Sirangelo appeared with other NASA officials this week at an advisory council to discuss exploration plans. At the meeting, he said he'd been working on the plan to return to the moon, a mission he called "daunting." Also at the meeting, Bridenstine said NASA needs an additional $1.6 billion for the 2020 budget to reach the goal.

"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," Bridenstine said.

What is a young science-curious Soylentil to think?


Original Submission

Project Artemis: Return to the Moon to Cost Another $20-30 Billion 32 comments

Bridenstine estimates Artemis cost at $20–30 billion

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a television interview June 13 that it will cost the agency an additional $20 billion to $30 billion to return humans to the moon, the first range of costs given by the agency for the program.

In an interview with CNN, Bridenstine said that estimate would be above earlier projections for costs of existing elements of what's now called the Artemis program, such as the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft.

"For the whole program, to get a sustainable presence on the moon, we're looking at between 20 and 30 billion dollars," he said. "When we talk about the 20 to 30 billion dollars, it would be 20 or 30 billion on top of the normal NASA budget but, of course, that would be spread over five years."

[...] The lack of cost estimates for Artemis had become a point of frustration for members of Congress. "For us in Congress to be able to grapple with these things, we need some idea of how much of a cost is expected to be incurred over the next five years," said Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) during a June 11 hearing by the House Science Committee's space subcommittee on NASA's science program where he sought, unsuccessfully, to get a cost estimate like the one Bridenstine provided in the interview.

Also at The Verge.

Previously: Here's Why NASA's Audacious Return to the Moon Just Might Work
Lockheed Martin Proposes Streamlined Lunar Gateway for 2024 Manned Lunar Landing
Artemis: NASA to Receive $1.6 Billion for 2024 Manned Moon Landing
NASA Orders First Segment of Lunar Station for 2024 Artemis Moon Mission


Original Submission

SpaceX Brings on NASA's Former top Spaceflight Official as it Prepares to Launch First Astronauts 6 comments

SpaceX brings on NASA's former top spaceflight official as it prepares to launch first astronauts:

SpaceX is only a couple of months away from its first attempt at launching astronauts and the company has brought in one of the foremost experts in human spaceflight to help it do so successfully.

William Gerstenmaier, the former leader of NASA's human spaceflight program, has now begun working at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, people familiar with his hiring told CNBC. In his new role Gerstenmaier is reporting to SpaceX vice president of mission assurance Hans Koenigsmann, those people said, as the company prepares to begin launching astronauts.

A SpaceX spokesperson confirmed that Gerstenmaier is a consultant for the company's reliability engineering team.

Previously Gerstenmaier served as the NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations for nearly 14 years. In total he had a four decade career with NASA, working on programs ranging from the Space Shuttle to the International Space Station. Gerstenmaier is widely considered one of the world's top specialists in flying humans in space, frequently testifying before Congress on the subject.

SpaceX has hired a key NASA official to help with human spaceflight:

SpaceX has confirmed that NASA's former chief of human spaceflight, William Gerstenmaier, has joined the company as a consultant as it prepares to launch astronauts for the first time.

[...] He immediately brings credibility to the company's safety culture. Former Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale, who now chairs the human spaceflight committee of NASA's Advisory Council, told Ars last summer, "Bill was recognized by everybody as being technically well-grounded and very astute. He was known to listen carefully and to make his judgments based on good technical reasons."

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @05:31PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @05:31PM (#866672)

    They need to launch before the ever-increasing earth wobble due to the magnetic field perturbation caused by the ever more proximate celestial body no one wants to talk about. It is currently outbound.

    • (Score: 1) by RandomFactor on Saturday July 13 2019, @05:47PM (2 children)

      by RandomFactor (3682) Subscriber Badge on Saturday July 13 2019, @05:47PM (#866678) Journal

      Hmmm, the Moon is moving away from the Earth by something like 4cm/year, and Thea's ship has already sailed. You mean Nibiru?

      --
      В «Правде» нет известий, в «Известиях» нет правды
      • (Score: 0, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @05:54PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @05:54PM (#866681)

        Careful, they've been shutting down the servers anywhere it is mentioned.

        • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @09:45PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @09:45PM (#866718)

          Let me know when they shut down YouTube.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @06:22PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @06:22PM (#866686)

    That is a bullshit deadline, probably to make the orange boss happy. Without a surge in funding, it's not going to even come close.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @08:26PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @08:26PM (#866700)

      Let's get Ken a Barbie ladder... Hasbro in SPaaaaaCE!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 14 2019, @03:12PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 14 2019, @03:12PM (#866907)

      Heavens forbid someone try to hold the SLS program to account for missing its deadlines or budgets. Orange Man Bad Uber Alles, I guess. I expect if it was D pushing this you'd be all for holding their feet to the fire.

    • (Score: 2) by driverless on Monday July 15 2019, @03:05AM

      by driverless (4770) on Monday July 15 2019, @03:05AM (#867054)

      Yup. However when NASA do eventually get someone back on the moon, maybe in fifty years or so, they'll be able to choose between the Indian restaurant and the Chinese takeaway when they need to get dinner after landing.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by isostatic on Saturday July 13 2019, @06:38PM (6 children)

    by isostatic (365) on Saturday July 13 2019, @06:38PM (#866688) Journal

    The U.S. is still unable to put a human being in low earth orbit.

    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @09:13PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @09:13PM (#866714)

      if you understand the Electric and Dielectric Universe, the lethality of cosmic rays makes space travel quite impossible forever, for us, and for any alien want to bees...…..there are probably a million worlds within our galaxy along with life much like us but they are just imprison on those worlds as we are on this one. All the UFO's and various sightings of portals and various phenomenon in the skies of earth for the last 70 years are all parlor tricks being created using Tesla's invention of scalar energy interferometers, which includes the application and technology which commercially is called Project Bluebeam....check out the Dubai show on youtube…...the kiddies can pet the T-rex, the Cheetahs, and the Rhino.....these replicants are actually scalar energy plasma forcefields that can be manipulated into any object, shape, or create any sound.....remember the two Boeing 777's on 9/11, and the foos fighters of WW2, and UFO's by the thousands since the 1950s......now everyone should be aware of where they came from....see Nibirushock.com, Thomas Bearden's papers on scalar energy physics.

      This is BS.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday July 13 2019, @09:49PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday July 13 2019, @09:49PM (#866720)

      Presumably, we can still put a W78 anywhere on Earth within 2 hours.

      Putting a human in low earth orbit is just a sideshow for the underfunded peace sign fig leaf to carry out.

      What was the W declaration's "deadline" for returning to the Moon?

      --
      🌻🌻 [google.com]
    • (Score: 2) by driverless on Monday July 15 2019, @03:08AM (3 children)

      by driverless (4770) on Monday July 15 2019, @03:08AM (#867057)

      They can however put a Tesla Roadster into orbit roughly the same as Mars.

      Oh, wait, that was some crazy South African dude who did it privately. My bad.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @06:55PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @06:55PM (#866690)

    "As you know, NASA has been given a bold challenge to put the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024, with a focus on the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars,"

    How about send some transgendered person while they're at it?

    Seriously, if they are really interested in scientific progress they should be doing some scientific tests first to see if Moon or Mars gravity is actually good enough for humans before potentially wasting money on putting humans on the Moon or Mars.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @08:28PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @08:28PM (#866701)

      How about send some transgendered person while they're at it?

      It could make for a crowded capsule. How many alt-genders are we at this week?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @08:56PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13 2019, @08:56PM (#866710)

        The number of genders is arbitrary, we need a turing complete nomenclature to describe them. This is someone who identifies as a heterosexual alpha female, but also sometimes as a transsexual beta incelibate man:

        I-cis-het-alpha-1-uncel-fem-II-trans-hom-beta-2-incel-mal

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