NASA HAD ORIGINALLY WANTED TO PICK TWO COMPANIES TO DEVELOP HUMAN LUNAR LANDERS

NASA HAD ORIGINALLY WANTED TO PICK TWO COMPANIES TO DEVELOP HUMAN LUNAR LANDERS

NASA said today that it will build a second human lunar lander for its Artemis mission to return people to the Moon. The government is asking commercial space firms to design landers that can ferry humans to and from the Moon’s orbit and surface by 2026 or 2027 at the earliest.

NASA HAD ORIGINALLY WANTED TO PICK TWO COMPANIES TO DEVELOP HUMAN LUNAR LANDERS

NASA has already contracted with SpaceX to build a lunar lander for Artemis, which will be the first to land a woman and a person of colour on the Moon. In 2021, NASA granted SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to convert its future Starship spacecraft into a lunar lander. NASA and SpaceX are now working on the first Artemis lunar landing in 2025, albeit this is improbable.

NASA HAD ORIGINALLY WANTED TO PICK TWO COMPANIES TO DEVELOP HUMAN LUNAR LANDERS

The choice to choose only one firm didn’t sit well with the losers. Blue Origin then sued NASA in federal court over the selection, but lost. However, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson voiced his wish for two lunar lander suppliers, hoping Congress would support the programme. And at one time Congress seemed to be ordering NASA to do so. According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, in October, NASA should choose a second business to build Artemis’ lunar lander. However, the most recent budget agreement passed for 2022 did not require NASA to do so, but did provide it with the full $1.195 billion requested for lunar landers. The choice to choose only one firm didn’t sit well with the losers.

NASA would get $26 billion in new budget request

NASA would get $26 billion in new budget request

President Joe Biden has requested $26 billion for NASA in 2023, almost $2 billion more than the space agency earned in the current fiscal year. If passed, a third of that cash would go to NASA’s ambitious Artemis mission to bring people back to the Moon.

NASA would get $26 billion in new budget request

Artemis, which aims to send the first woman and first person of colour to the Moon by 2025, will receive roughly $7.5 billion. A new lunar lander capable of carrying people to and from the lunar surface has just been added to the Artemis master plan.

ROUGHLY $7.5 BILLION IS BEING SET ASIDE FOR ARTEMIS

NASA is working on three pieces of gear to return people to the Moon. The first two are the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion, a crew capsule. They’ve been under development for a decade and will work together to bring people to the Moon. A lunar lander is the third important piece of the puzzle. NASA gave SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract last year to turn its new Starship spaceship into an Artemis lander.

However, NASA has revealed intentions to collaborate with a private enterprise on a second lunar lander. The government sought to pick two businesses to design human landing systems for Artemis, but Congress only approved a quarter of the cash requested. NASA now wants financing for a second lunar mission. NASA’s budget papers provide around $1.486 billion for human landing systems, albeit they do not identify funding for particular landers.

Meanwhile, $779 million will go toward building NASA’s lunar Gateway, a new space station circling the Moon. The Gateway will eventually be an Artemis programme centre where astronauts may dwell and train before travelling to the moon. The Gateway’s initial section should debut in 2024 at the earliest. The latest budget proposal includes $486 million for robotic lunar missions to better comprehend the Moon’s geology. The VIPER rover will “investigate”

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei returns to Earth in Russian space capsule

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei returns to Earth in Russian space capsule

All three crew members were rescued safely from the spacecraft. Vande Hei will return to Houston, Texas, after going to Karaganda by helicopter and boarding a NASA plane to return to the United States.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei returns to Earth in Russian space capsule

Original Story: A world-record-breaking achievement NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is scheduled to return to Earth from the International Space Station on the morning of March 30th, riding on a Russian Soyuz rocket with two Russian cosmonauts. Vande Hei will be the first American to return to Earth from the International Space Station. His planned return to the planet has been a topic of contention for the last several weeks, as relations between the United States and Russia have deteriorated considerably as a result of the latter’s invasion of Ukraine.

Vande Hei has been at the International Space Station since April 2021, when he was launched from Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz rocket. Originally, he was only scheduled to be on board for six months, which is the typical length of stay for most astronauts on the International Space Station. However, NASA revealed in September that Vande Hei’s stay on the ISS had been extended in order to better accommodate a small group of visiting tourists as well as a Russian film team that Russia dispatched to the ISS at the end of last year. Vande Hei will now hold the record for the longest continuous stay in space by an American, with 355 days, thanks to the extension of his mission.

THE PLAN HAS ALWAYS BEEN FOR VANDE HEI TO RETURN IN A RUSSIAN SOYUZ

Vande Hei’s return to Earth has always been planned to take place aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, albeit he will be returning in a different capsule from the one that took him into space. However, when Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February, many people started to worry what this would imply for Vande Hei’s upcoming journey. In the early days of the Russian invasion, NASA informed the public that it and Russia’s state-owned space business, Roscosmos, were continuing their collaborative efforts to keep the space station operating at its regular level of operations. And NASA confirmed that Vande Hei was still on his way home in a Soyuz spacecraft as scheduled.

But on March 5th, RIA Novosti, a Russian official news channel, posted a video on Telegram that includes footage of Vande Hei on the International Space Station, as well as footage of Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, the two Russian cosmonauts with whom he’s meant to return to Earth. The footage was produced in such a manner that it seemed as if the cosmonauts were planning to abandon Vande Hei in space. The video subsequently showed the complete Russian segment of the space station disconnecting from the remainder of the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA says Russia is still ‘moving toward’ extending the space station through 2030

NASA says Russia is still ‘moving toward’ extending the space station through 2030

Despite worsening ties on Earth, Russia is contemplating staying aboard the International Space Station until 2030, NASA reports. It may be months before we get a concrete update on Russia’s official attitude.

NASA says Russia is still ‘moving toward’ extending the space station through 2030

NASA and Russia’s state space enterprise, Roscosmos, have been the station’s main collaborators for three decades. The two organisations have pledged to collaborate on the ISS through 2024, but the Biden administration revealed plans to extend the mission until 2030. Russia hasn’t officially agreed yet.

WE ALL UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS CONTINUED PARTNERSHIP, EVEN IN REALLY, REALLY, REALLY TOUGH TIMES.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, involvement by Roscosmos seemed improbable. In reaction to the conflict, the US sanctioned Russia’s biggest businesses, enraging Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin. On Twitter, Rogozin made crazy predictions about the ISS’s future, implying that if Russia left the programme prematurely, the station might collapse on the US. In light of the penalties, he has hinted at rethinking the US cooperation.

Despite all the hyperbole, Roscosmos hasn’t said “no” to the extension and may potentially extend it. “All of our foreign partners, including Roscosmos, are making progress toward station extension through 2030,” Kathy Lueders, NASA’s assistant administrator for space operations, stated Monday. “But we all see the value of this collaboration, especially in difficult times,” Lueders added.

This week, as NASA prepared to welcome back astronaut Mark Vande Hei aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket, ISS programme manager Joel Montalbano met with officials from Roscosmos. Program manager Dana Weigel remarked during a news conference that the International Space Station programme is still discussing and working towards 2030. “They mentioned when Joel Montalbano was in Russia, but made no alterations to the plan.”

In late April or early May, NASA hopes to obtain its next major update on extension plans. The condition of Russia-US ties at that time is unknown, although the nations’ cooperation in space may continue.

NASA to conduct elaborate dress rehearsal with new megarocket this weekend

NASA to conduct elaborate dress rehearsal with new megarocket this weekend

NASA is rehearsing all of the important procedures it will have to take when the Space Launch System launches for the first time during the next three days. It’s a big milestone in the rocket’s development and one of the final major tests before it may fly this summer.

NASA to conduct elaborate dress rehearsal with new megarocket this weekend

The agency’s new flagship rocket, the SLS, will take people and cargo into deep space. It’s part of NASA’s Artemis mission, which aims to send a woman and a person of colour to the Moon by the mid-2020s. SLS is planned to launch NASA’s new crew capsule named Orion, which will bring future people to the lunar surface.

NASA WANTS TO GO THROUGH ALL THE STEPS LEADING UP TO LAUNCH

But first, SLS must launch. Its first flight, Artemis I, is likewise a practise. The rocket will send Orion on a four- to six-week journey around the Moon to demonstrate its capabilities. But first, NASA wants to do a wet dress rehearsal of the whole launch process. The word “wet” alludes to the fact that NASA flight controllers expect to load the rocket’s tanks with ultracold liquid fuel on launch day. “It closely tracks launch countdown,” said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, NASA’s Artemis launch director. “There are tiny variances, but they are minimal.” The primary difference is that the countdown will not reach zero, hence there will be no launch.

It’s been over a decade in the making. NASA and Boeing have been working on SLS since the early 2010s, with several delays and cost overruns. On March 17th, the SLS rocket moved out of NASA’s historic Vehicle Assembly Building and onto its main launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launchpad, LC-39B, was utilised for several Apollo and Space Shuttle flights.

This time around, NASA wants to make sure that the SLS infrastructure works together for the first time. In addition to the huge movable launch platform needed to sustain the rocket during launch, the ground support systems comprise different tanks and structures used to feed cryogenic fuel into the rocket. “The mobile launcher has hundreds of components that must work,” said Tom Whitmeyer, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for common exploration systems development.