NASA hopes to have a new leader for the agency’s human spaceflight directorate by the end of the year to replace Bill Gerstenmaier, who held the post for nearly 14 years before his reassignment in July amid the Trump administration’s push to land humans on the moon by 2024, a NASA official said Wednesday.
After considering canceling a planned full-duration test-firing of the Space Launch System’s core stage in Mississippi ahead of the heavy-lift rocket’s first flight, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced this week that the agency will press ahead with the test next year, citing safety and reliability benefits for future astronauts riding on the launcher on missions to the moon.
Racing against the clock to meet the Trump administration’s 2024 deadline to land astronauts on the moon, NASA plans to select Northrop Grumman to build a pressurized habitation module derived from the company’s Cygnus cargo craft for living quarters for crews transiting to and from the lunar surface.
Teams working at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week connected a U.S.-built Orion crew module with its European-made power and propulsion element for the first time, a significant accomplishment ahead of the spacecraft’s shipment to Ohio this fall for testing inside the world’s largest vacuum chamber.
Despite appearances and a presidential tweet suggesting otherwise, the United States is “100%” committed to sending astronauts back to the moon in 2024 and establishing a long-term, sustainable presence there as a stepping stone to eventual piloted flights to Mars, Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview with CBS News.
Fifty years to the day after Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon, a NASA astronaut, an Italian flight engineer and a Russian commander blasted off from Kazakhstan Saturday aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, chased down the International Space Station and glided in for a picture-perfect docking.