Commercial Alternative to SLS for EM-1 Rejected

Commercial Alternative to SLS for EM-1 Rejected

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said today that commercial rockets cannot substitute for the Space Launch System on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1).  He revealed that NASA was studying that possibility at a Senate hearing on March 13.  The analysis showed it would not be feasible within the available time frame and budget, however.  Bridenstine is determined to launch EM-1, an uncrewed test flight of the Orion spacecraft around the Moon, in June 2020 despite reports of new SLS schedule delays.

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Today’s Tidbits: March 26, 2019

Today’s Tidbits: March 26, 2019

Here are SpacePolicyOnline.com’s tidbits for March 26, 2019:  Raymond nominated as USSPACECOM Commander; DOT wants comments on revised regulations; DOC issues spectrum report; OSTP releases space weather action plan; and a JWST update.

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Reactions Mixed to Pence’s Call for Astronauts on the Moon by 2024

Reactions Mixed to Pence’s Call for Astronauts on the Moon by 2024

Initial reactions are mixed to Vice President Mike Pence’s announcement today of the goal of landing astronauts on the Moon by 2024, just 5 years from now.  Pence made the announcement at a meeting of the National Space Council in Huntsville, AL where he directed NASA to accomplish that goal “by any means necessary.”

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Pence: Americans Will Land at Moon’s South Pole By 2024

Pence: Americans Will Land at Moon’s South Pole By 2024

Vice President Mike Pence announced a new goal for the U.S. human spaceflight program today — landing astronauts at the lunar South Pole within the next 5 years.  President Trump has directed NASA to accomplish that “by any means necessary” and if NASA cannot do it, it is NASA, not the mission, that must change, Pence warned.  NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine replied that NASA is ready.

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No-Go on First All-Female Spacewalk

No-Go on First All-Female Spacewalk

NASA announced a change of plans today for the spacewalks taking place at the International Space Station (ISS).  On Friday, the first-ever all-female spacewalk was planned with NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch.  A spacesuit issue has derailed those plans however.  Koch will now be paired with NASA astronaut Nick Hague.

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Political Pressure Grows on NASA’s Lunar Program

Political Pressure Grows on NASA’s Lunar Program

Vice President Mike Pence will chair a meeting of the National Space Council in Huntsville, Alabama, on Tuesday.  Huntsville is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, which is managing development of NASA’s new big rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), to return astronauts to the lunar surface.  The meeting comes in the wake of reports of new SLS schedule delays.  Pence is expected to offer “guidance” on the need to meet commitments and add a “sense of urgency” to the effort.  While some are speculating that Pence may make a major announcement to accelerate the lunar landing plans, the FY2020 budget request shows no signs of it.  In fact, it would defer SLS upgrades purportedly needed to put humans back on the Moon.

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What’s Happening in Space Policy March 24-30, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy March 24-30, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of March 24-30, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

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Cooper Optimistic Congress Will Approve Space Force, But Will it Solve the Problem?

Cooper Optimistic Congress Will Approve Space Force, But Will it Solve the Problem?

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan today championed the need for a Space Force to protect our $19 trillion economy and the space systems our military depends upon.  Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), a key member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), expressed optimism that Congress will approve a Space Force in some form this year.  A major rationale is to focus responsibility for and raise the priority of national security space activities within DOD. Cristina Chaplain of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which identified as many as 60 military space stakeholder organizations, wondered if it will solve the problem.

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U.S. and Japanese Probes Discover Asteroids Are Full of Surprises

U.S. and Japanese Probes Discover Asteroids Are Full of Surprises

Two asteroid sample return missions are showing scientists that Earth-based observations do not tell the whole story about the nature of these small bodies in the solar system.  Scientists and engineers on the U.S.-led OSIRIS-REx and the Japanese-led Hayabusa2 missions are having to scramble to adjust their sample acquisition plans now that the probes are at their destinations and finding unexpected environments.  For OSIRIS-REx, that includes particles spewing off of the surface in plumes. The mission’s top scientist, Dante Lauretta, calls it one of the biggest surprises of his career.

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