Weekly Roundup for SpacePolicyOnline.com: February 19 – March 4, 2024

Weekly Roundup for SpacePolicyOnline.com: February 19 – March 4, 2024

Here are links to all the articles published on SpacePolicyOnline.com over the past two weeks, February 19-March 4, 2024, including our “What’s Happening in Space Policy” for this coming week. Click on each title to read the entire article.

Crew-8 Up and Away

March 4, 2024. Weather finally cooperated for the NASA/SpaceX Crew-8 to lift off late Sunday evening on their way to the International Space Station. Docking is expected about 3:00 am on Tuesday.

NASA Gets Significant Cut in Final FY2024 Appropriations

March 3, 2024. House and Senate appropriators released their final agreement on six FY2024 appropriations bills today including the one that funds NASA, Commerce-Justice-Science. The agency will get $24.875 billion, half a billion less than its FY2023 spending level of $25.384 billion and more than $2 billion less than President Biden’s request of $27.185 billion. Support for the Artemis program remains strong along with Mars Sample Return, but funding will be a challenge for both.

What’s Happening in Space Policy March 3-10, 2024

March 3, 2024. Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week plus a day of March 3-10, 2024 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in session this week starting Tuesday.

Odie and SLIM Asleep on the Moon

March 1, 2024.  Sundown has returned to the area of the Moon where two small lunar landers — one Japanese, one American — have been collecting imagery and data. Both are powered only by solar cells, so when the Sun sets the surface and the landers literally go dark. They are not designed to survive the bitter cold 14-day lunar nights, but Japan’s SLIM beat the odds and returned to life for a few days this week. Time will tell if it can do that again and if the U.S. lander, Intuitive Machines’ Odyssesus, or Odie, will wake up later this month.

Congress Clears New CR, Punting Shutdown Threat Further Into March

February 29, 2024. The House and Senate passed a new Continuing Resolution today extending the deadlines for passing the 12 FY2024 appropriations bills further into March. Without the new CR, funding for departments and agencies in four of the bills would have run out tomorrow night and the rest a week later. This new legislation buys a bit more time. Now six of the bills will expire on March 8 and the others on March 22. The House also passed an extension of the FAA’s authorization, including extending the “learning period” prohibition on new commercial human spaceflight regulations until May.

Former NASA Administrator Richard Truly Passes Away

February 29, 2024. Former NASA Administrator and astronaut Richard Truly passed away on February 27, 2024. He was 86. Truly’s career will probably be best remembered for his leadership at NASA in returning the space shuttle to flight after the 1986 Challenger tragedy and his later appointment to head the agency by President George H. W. Bush, but he also served the nation in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of Vice Admiral, earning the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, and was the first commander of Naval Space Command.

NASA and IM Agree: Odysseus is a Success

February 28, 2024. Intuitive Machines’ Odysseus lunar lander, the first U.S. spacecraft to soft-land on the Moon in 52 years, is a success as far as the company and NASA are concerned. Despite a significant number of challenges that could have meant failure, including forgetting to enable the laser altimeter before launch, the mission is reaching the end of its expected lifetime having returned megabytes of data for its government and commercial customers.

Leak in ISS Russian Segment Increases, But Not an Immediate Concern

February 28, 2024. NASA said today the air leak in the Russian segment of the International Space Station has increased, but along with Russia’s Roscosmos stressed it does not present an imminent threat. The leak was first reported several years ago, but NASA and Roscosmos have downplayed it, insisting the affected section could be sealed off with little impact on ISS operations. Separately, NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel reiterated the need for an ISS deorbit tug to ensure the ISS does not make an uncontrolled reentry at the end of its lifetime, whenever that is.

Congressional Leadership Agrees to Push Shutdown Worries Down the Road

February 28, 2024. The top Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate and House agreed today to pass another Continuing Resolution this week to avoid a partial government shutdown. Funding for departments and agencies in four of the 12 appropriations bills otherwise would run out on Friday, March 1, and March 8 for the others. Now those in six of the bills will be funded until March 8 and the rest until March 22.  The FAA, NASA and NOAA are in the first bundle, while DOD is in the second.

India Introduces First Astronaut Group

February 27, 2024. India introduced its first group of astronauts today. They will not be the first Indians to fly into space — that distinction belongs to Rakesh Sharma — but are the first official class of astronauts as part of India’s long term program for human spaceflight called Gaganyaan.

Odysseus Sends Back Lunar Images

February 26, 2024. Intuitive Machines’ Odysseus lunar lander has sent back images days after tipping over while landing near the Moon’s South Pole. The U.S. company was not sure precisely where Odysseus set down because of problems with the navigation system, but it now has been spotted by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Odysseus is the first U.S. spacecraft to land on the Moon since 1972 and the company expected operations to continue for at least 7 days, but said today it will lose contact tomorrow after just 5 days.

SLIM Beats the Odds Again

February 26, 2024. This morning brought the good news that Japan’s lunar lander, SLIM, defied the odds yet again and has resumed tranmissions after surviving the bitter cold lunar night. The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon had a rough landing and although ground controllers were able to get data and images back, the solar-powered lander was not expected to operate again after sundown three weeks ago.

FAA Closes Starship OFT-2 Mishap Investigation

February 26, 2024. The FAA said today it has closed its mishap investigation of the second orbital flight test of SpaceX’s Starship, OFT-2, that took place last November. SpaceX must implement a set of corrective actions before the FAA will issue a license for OFT-3, but both the company and the FAA have indicated mid-March is a likely time frame.

What’s Happening in Space Policy February 25-March 2, 2024

February 25, 2024. Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of February 25-March 2, 2024 and any insight we can offer about them. The Senate returns to work on Monday, the House on Wednesday.

IM’s Odysseus Lunar Lander Not Upright After All

February 23, 2024. Intuitive Machines co-founder and CEO Steve Altemus told reporters this afternoon that initial indications yesterday that the Odysseus lander was upright on the lunar surface were wrong. Apparently it is laying on its side, slightly tilted up. IM still expects to get most of the expected data from the payloads, but they continue to work communications issues to get data and images back to Earth.

IM and NASA Declare Success — Odysseus Lander on the Moon

February 22, 2024. Houston-based Intuitive Machines and NASA declared this evening that IM’s Odysseus spacecraft successfully landed on the Moon. The final hours were filled with drama, but the company says Odysseus is upright and starting to send back data, making it the first U.S. lunar lander since 1972 and the first successful commercial lunar lander.

IM-1 Enters Lunar Orbit, Moon Landing Tomorrow

February 21, 2024.  Intuitive Machines’ IM-1 successfully entered lunar orbit today, readying for its scheduled landing tomorrow afternoon at 5:30 pm ET. IM-1’s lander, Odysseus, will take about an hour to descend from orbit to the surface once the command is given. If all goes well, Odysseus will be the first U.S. lander on the Moon since 1972, the first successful commercial lander, and will land closer to the Moon’s South Pole than any other spacecraft.

Weekly Roundup for SpacePolicyOnline.com: February 12-18, 2024

February 19, 2024. Here are links to all the articles published on SpacePolicyOnline.com over the last week, February 12-18, 2024, including our “What’s Happening in Space Policy” for this coming week. Click on each title to read the entire article.

User Comments

SpacePolicyOnline.com has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.