Gateway No Longer Mandatory for 2024 Moon Landing

Gateway No Longer Mandatory for 2024 Moon Landing

The head of NASA’s human exploration program said today that the lunar Gateway that has been a linchpin of the Artemis program no longer is a mandatory component of getting astronauts back on the Moon by 2024.  NASA has decided to “decouple” getting to the Moon “fast” versus getting there “sustainably” and Gateway is not needed to get there fast.  This dramatic turnaround was driven by the need to meet the Trump Administration’s deadline to put astronauts on the lunar surface before the end of a second Trump term if he is reelected.

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Russia/ESA Delay ExoMars 2020 to 2022

Russia/ESA Delay ExoMars 2020 to 2022

The Russian and European space agencies announced today that they will delay the launch of their ExoMars 2020 Mars mission to 2022.  The decision was widely expected because of problems with the spacecraft’s parachutes, but ESA officials explained today that other testing also remains to be done.  Postponing launch by 2 years — the next time the two planets are aligned properly — will help ensure the mission’s success. The coronavirus outbreak is a contributing factor since it limits travel for those building and testing the spacecraft.

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Today’s Tidbits: March 11, 2020

Today’s Tidbits: March 11, 2020

Here are SpacePolicyOnline.com’s tidbits for March 11, 2020:  COVID-19 cancellations; SpaceX “Gunning for May” for Demo-2; confirmation hearing for Neil Jacobs to head NOAA.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

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SLS: $17 Billion And Counting, with First Launch Still a Year Away

SLS: $17 Billion And Counting, with First Launch Still a Year Away

The NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a new report on the cost and schedule for the Saturn V-class Space Launch System (SLS) NASA is building to send people to the Moon and Mars.  Already over cost and behind schedule, the report offers no good news about either as NASA and the vehicle’s prime contractor, Boeing, get ready for a major test this summer.

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What’s Happening in Space Policy March 8-14, 2020

What’s Happening in Space Policy March 8-14, 2020

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of March 8-14, 2020 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

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Loverro: No Decision Yet On Repeating Starliner OFT

Loverro: No Decision Yet On Repeating Starliner OFT

The head of NASA’s human spaceflight program, Doug Loverro, said today that he does not know when NASA will decide whether Boeing must repeat the flawed CST-100 Starliner uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT).  An Independent Review Team (IRT) made more than 60 recommendations on how to fix the software anomalies that occurred. Boeing now must come up with a plan to address them before such a decision is made.  Loverro has designated the Starliner OFT anomalies a “high visibility close call” incident, meaning NASA will conduct its own organizational root cause assessment and capture lessons learned.

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Office of Space Commerce Funding Needed “Urgently,” Says Ross, But Senate Appropriators Reticent

Office of Space Commerce Funding Needed “Urgently,” Says Ross, But Senate Appropriators Reticent

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross told a Senate appropriations subcommittee today that boosting funding for the Office of Space Commerce and elevating it within the Department is “urgently” needed.  The subcommittee’s top Republican and Democrat expressed reticence, however, because the Senate has not yet passed authorization legislation to make such organizational changes.

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Axiom and SpaceX Agree to Send Four Private Astronauts to ISS Next Year

Axiom and SpaceX Agree to Send Four Private Astronauts to ISS Next Year

SpaceX and Axiom Space announced an agreement today to send four private astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) by the end of 2021.  SpaceX is developing the Crew Dragon spacecraft to ferry government astronauts to and from the ISS, but the goal is for the government to be just one of many customers for such flights. Axiom wants to commercialize low Earth orbit.

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And the Name Is … Perseverance

And the Name Is … Perseverance

NASA announced the new name for its Mars 2020 rover today:  Perseverance.  The name was chosen though a student contest and the announcement was made at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, VA where the student whose essay won the day goes to school.  The rover is at Kennedy Space Center getting ready for launch in July.  Technicians there attached the nameplate while today’s ceremonies were underway.

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ALL NASA EMPLOYEES ENCOURAGED TO TELEWORK ON FRIDAY AS TEST

ALL NASA EMPLOYEES ENCOURAGED TO TELEWORK ON FRIDAY AS TEST

NASA is encouraging all of its employees to telework on Friday, March 6, to test the agency’s ability to function in case there is an emergency, like the spread of the coronavirus, that requires them to work from home.  Participation is voluntary and not expected to affect already scheduled activities such as advisory committee meetings or events associated with the SpaceX CRS-20 cargo launch to the International Space Station Friday evening.

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