NASA's SpaceX Crew-2 Astronauts Discuss Upcoming Mission

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NASA 17 April, 2021 - 09:18am 36 views

Who is Elon Musk?

Elon Musk, (born June 28, 1971, Pretoria, South Africa), South African-born American entrepreneur who cofounded the electronic-payment firm PayPal and formed SpaceX, maker of launch vehicles and spacecraft. ... britannica.comElon Musk | Biography & Facts

The award to SpaceX for the “human landing system” was a stunning announcement that marked another major victory for the hard-charging company that vaults it to the top tier of the nation’s aerospace companies and solidifies it as one of the space agency’s most trusted partners.

NASA had originally chosen all three companies for the initial phase of the contract, and was expected to choose two of them to build the lunar lander. In other major programs, NASA has chosen multiple providers to foster competition and to ensure it has redundancy in case one can’t deliver.

In a document explaining NASA’s rationale for picking SpaceX obtained by The Washington Post, NASA said it wanted “to preserve a competitive environment at this stage of the HLS Program.” But it added that “NASA’s current fiscal year budget did not support even a single [contract] award.” As a result, SpaceX updated its payment schedule so that it now fits “within NASA’s current budget.”

But in moving ahead with SpaceX alone, it sent a message that it fully trusts the growing company to fly its astronauts for its signature human exploration program — Artemis, a campaign to return astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972.

“As the first human lunar lander in 50 years, this innovative human landing system will be a hallmark in space exploration history,” Lisa Watson-Morgan, NASA’s lunar lander program manager, said during a news briefing announcing the award. “NASA’s Apollo program captured the world’s attention, demonstrated the power of America’s vision and technology, and can-do spirit. And we expect Artemis will similarly inspire great achievements, innovation and scientific discoveries. We’re confident in NASA’s partnership with SpaceX to help us achieve the Artemis mission.”

Over the past several years, SpaceX, founded by Musk in 2002 with the goal of eventually flying humans to Mars, has completely upended the space industry, moving through fast, and at times fiery test campaigns that have unsettled traditional industry officials but also ignited new waves of enthusiasm not seen since the early days of the Space Age.

When Musk first started the company, even he didn’t think it would succeed. In 2008, after three test flights of its Falcon 1 rocket failed to reach orbit, he was nearly out of money. But the next test was successful, and NASA awarded the company a modest contract that kept it afloat.

In the years since, SpaceX has flown cargo and supplies to the International Space Station, and then, astronauts, overcoming skeptics who said human spaceflight should never be outsourced to the private sector, and certainly not to a company as green — and brash — as SpaceX.

In 2015, one of its Falcon 9 rockets exploded on a mission for NASA flying cargo to the station. Another exploded on the launchpad ahead of an engine test in 2016. And after Musk smoked pot on a podcast broadcast on the Internet, then-NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine ordered a safety review of the entire company.

But despite the setbacks, SpaceX has achieved enormous success — flying astronauts safely and dominating the launch market, while lowering the cost and dramatically increasing the number of flights.

For the Artemis program, SpaceX bid its reusable Starship spacecraft, which is being designed to fly large numbers of people into deep space and land on celestial bodies as well as back on Earth.

On Twitter, the company said it is “humbled to help @NASAArtemis usher in a new era of human space exploration.” In a statement, Blue Origin said its “National Team doesn’t have very much information yet. We are looking to learn more about the selection.” Dynetics did not respond to requests for comment.

The company has been putting its Starship spacecraft through a fast-paced test campaign at its facility in South Texas, launching prototypes without any people on board several miles up in the air, then flying them back to a landing site.

So far, all the test vehicles have crash-landed in a series of fireballs that triggered investigations overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration. But the company is expected to try again soon with a test vehicle that Musk has said is outfitted with several upgrades. And it hopes to be able to fly the spacecraft to orbit this year.

SpaceX was one of two providers hired by NASA to fly its astronauts to the International Space Station. It flew two missions with astronauts last year and its next mission scheduled to launch on Thursday. Boeing, the other company hired to ferry crews to the station and back, has stumbled badly and has yet to fly a test mission with astronauts.

That experience shows why NASA is best served by having at least two providers on major programs, officials said, and the pressure will be on SpaceX to perform. According to the document explaining the decision, SpaceX’s bid “was the lowest among the offerors by a wide margin.” NASA also liked Starship’s ability to ferry a lot of cargo to and from the surface of the moon as well, which it said “has the potential to greatly improve scientific operations.”

While the contract will cover the first human landing, Watson-Morgan said NASA “will also begin work immediately on a follow-up competition” to “provide regularly recurring services to the lunar surface that will enable these crewed missions on sustainable basis.”

The Artemis program began under the administration of former president Donald Trump but has been embraced by the Biden administration, though the White House is reconsidering the timeline. Trump had ordered that astronauts land on the moon by 2024, a schedule the White House now says is under review as NASA works to develop its rockets and spacecraft. It is also working with Congress to get the funding it needs.

For this fiscal year, Congress appropriated $850 million for the effort — well short of the $3.3 billion NASA said it needed to meet the 2024 timeline.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration proposed a $24.7 billion budget for NASA, a 6.3 percent increase that included an additional $325 million for the Artemis program.

Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk praised the request and said it “supports the development of capabilities for sustainable, long-duration human exploration beyond Earth, and eventually to Mars.”

Previously NASA vowed that it would land a woman on the moon as part of the first Artemis lunar landing. But in his statement, Jurczyk said the agency would also include the “first person of color” as part of the program.

The White House recently nominated former Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) to lead the agency. His confirmation hearing is scheduled for next week, and he is expected to win confirmation easily. During his time in Congress, Nelson was a strong advocate for space exploration, and he flew on the space shuttle in 1986 as a member of the House. If confirmed, he has said he would push to get the funding the Artemis program needs, as the agency reassesses the timeline for returning astronauts to the moon.

Also on Friday, the White House said it would nominate former NASA astronaut Pamela Melroy, a retired Air Force colonel, to be the space agency’s deputy administrator.

The contracts for the lunar landers come a year after NASA awarded three initial contracts to Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX.

In awarding those contracts, NASA said Blue Origin and its team was furthest along and awarded it the largest contract, $579 million. Dynetics, which is partnering with the Sierra Nevada Corp., received $253 million, and SpaceX won $135 million.

The defeat is a huge blow Blue Origin, and to Bezos, who has long been fascinated by the moon and has for years wanted to be part of the effort to return there. He has said that watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon when he was 5 years old was “a seminal moment” for him.

Blue Origin has been pitching its landing system, known as Blue Moon, since 2017, and Bezos has said he would invest in it heavily himself. In 2019, Bezos said that the program is “so ambitious that it needs to be done with partners. This is the only way to get back to the moon fast. We’re not going back to the moon to visit. We’re going back to the moon to stay.”

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Read full article at NASA

Elon Musk's SpaceX 'will bring first woman to the Moon after signing rocket deal with NASA'

Daily Mail 17 April, 2021 - 10:21am

By Stacy Liberatore For Dailymail.com

NASA has chosen Elon Musk's SpaceX to build the spacecraft that take the first woman and next man to the moon.

The American space agency made the official announcement Friday, which includes SpaceX's  $2.9 billion contract to build the lunar lander that is reportedly much lower than what competitors bid. 

The Washington Post shared the news hours before saying the Musk-owned firm beat out Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Dynetics. 

Bezos owns the Post, which branded Musk's win a 'stunning victory' over his Amazon tycoon's rival effort.

The officials statement from NASA confirms SpaceX will be the only one to take humans back to the moon for the first time since the Apollo mission 48 years ago. 

The Washington Post also wrote: 'The defeat is a huge blow Blue Origin, and to Bezos'.

NASA has chosen Elon Musk 's SpaceX to build the spacecraft that take the first woman and next man to the moon. SpaceX's HLS Starship will include the company's tested Raptor engines, along with pulling inspiration from the Falcon and Dragon vehicles' designs

America has not witnessed a human landing system since 1972 and NASA has been planning an epic return to the moon for quiet some time.

However, the historic moon landing turned into a space race between billionaires when NASA announced last year that SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics were competing to turn the plans into a reality.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a live feed in April: 'With these contract awards, America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, including the incredible moment when we will see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface.'

The initial 10-month contracts totaled to $967 million: Blue Origin received $579 million, Dynetics $253 million and SpaceX was awarded $135 million.

 The American space agency made the official announcement Friday, which includes awarding SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build the lunar lander

According to the Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos: 'The defeat is a huge blow Blue Origin, and to Bezos, who has long been fascinated by the moon and has for years wanted to be part of the effort to return there.

But now, it will be SpaceX's innovation that will carry the next two American astronauts the the lunar surface. 

The Artemis mission, which is set for 2024, will see four spacefaring heroes board the Orion spacecraft that will be rocketed off to space by NASA's powerful Space Launch System (SLS).

Once in orbit, two crew members will transfer to the SpaceX human landing system (HLS) and head to the moon. 

Blue Origin has been working on moon landing system, known as Blue Moon, since 2017. The firm had designed a mockup for a revised version it planned to send to the moon

After approximately a week exploring the surface, they will board the lander for their short trip back to orbit where they will return to Orion and their colleagues before heading back to Earth.

Kathy Lueders, NASA's associate administrator for Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate, said: 'With this award, NASA and our partners will complete the first crewed demonstration mission to the surface of the Moon in the 21st century as the agency takes a step forward for women’s equality and long-term deep space exploration.

'This critical step puts humanity on a path to sustainable lunar exploration and keeps our eyes on missions farther into the solar system, including Mars.'

SpaceX's HLS Starship will include the company's tested Raptor engines, along with pulling inspiration from the Falcon and Dragon vehicles' designs.

The lander will feature a spacious cabin and two airlocks for astronaut moonwalks. 

'The Starship architecture is intended to evolve to a fully reusable launch and landing system designed for travel to the Moon, Mars, and other destinations,' NASA shared in the announcement.

According to the Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos: 'The defeat is a huge blow Blue Origin, and to Bezos, who has long been fascinated by the moon and has for years wanted to be part of the effort to return there.

'He has said that watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon when he was 5 years old was 'a seminal moment' for him.'

Although Bezos was reaching for the stars, Musk's SpaceX has actually sent NASA astronauts to space.

On May 2020, SpaceX brought spaceflight back to America by launching NASA astronauts from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the to the International Space Station (ISS) – an event that has not happened in nearly a decade. 

Although Bezos was reaching for the stars, Musk's SpaceX has actually sent NASA astronauts to space. SpaceX has launched 116 rockets from its Falcon 9 family, with 114 full missions successes

Dubbed 'Launch America,' it was also the first time a private company has put astronauts into space.

SpaceX has launched 116 rockets from its Falcon 9 family, with 114 full missions successes.

However, Blue Origin has been working on moon landing system, known as Blue Moon, since 2017.

And Musk has only been developing crafts to go to Mars – all of which have exploded after the first test flight. 

This has not stopped SpaceX from moving forward with plans to go to the moon, or the Red Planet for that matter, and said last year it would create a 'lunar optimized Starship' would bring crew from lunar orbit to the Moon's surface under NASA's Artemis program.

'A lunar optimized Starship can fly many times between the surface of the Moon and lunar orbit without flaps or heat shielding required for Earth return,' the company said.

Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology. 

NASA has chosen her to personify its path back to the Moon, which will see astronauts return to the lunar surface by 2024 -  including the first woman and the next man.

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. 

Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  

Artemis 1 will be an uncrewed flight that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond. 

During this flight, the spacecraft will launch on the most powerful rocket in the world and fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown.

It will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about a three-week mission. 

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. This graphic explains the various stages of the mission

Orion will stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before. 

With this first exploration mission, NASA is leading the next steps of human exploration into deep space where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems near the Moon needed for lunar surface missions and exploration to other destinations farther from Earth, including Mars. 

The will take crew on a different trajectory and test Orion’s critical systems with humans aboard.

The SLS rocket will from an initial configuration capable of sending more than 26 metric tons to the Moon, to a final configuration that can send at least 45 metric tons. 

Together, Orion, SLS and the ground systems at Kennedy will be able to meet the most challenging crew and cargo mission needs in deep space.

Eventually NASA seeks to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.

The space agency hopes this colony will uncover new scientific discoveries, demonstrate new technological advancements and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy. 

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Know Your Crew...Two!

NASA Johnson 17 April, 2021 - 10:21am

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