Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, discussed his vision for spaceflight and lunar exploration Thursday in Washington, revealing new details about a privately-developed lunar lander he said will help NASA achieve the Trump administration’s goal of returning astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024.
While recovery teams continue combing through the test site at Cape Canaveral where SpaceX’s first space-worthy Crew Dragon capsule was destroyed in an explosive accident last month, engineers a few miles away are pressing ahead with the company’s 17th resupply mission to the International Space Station set for launch early Friday.
A senior NASA official said Tuesday that the Space Launch System, a huge heavy-lift rocket years behind schedule, could launch astronauts on a moon landing mission in 2024 on just its third flight to meet a goal announced last month by Vice President Mike Pence, while commercial companies will be entrusted with more responsibility to develop a lunar lander and a modest mini-space station, or Gateway, in lunar orbit.
A SpaceX Dragon supply ship packed with nearly three tons of experiments, crew provisions and supplies will remain on the ground until at least Friday morning to allow more time for NASA flight controllers to troubleshoot a problem with an electrical distribution unit on the International Space Station.
NASA and SpaceX officials have said little this week about the apparent explosion of a Crew Dragon capsule Saturday during a ground test at Cape Canaveral, and members of a safety advisory panel said Thursday they will be patient as investigators review high-speed imagery, telemetry data and wreckage to determine the cause of the accident.
NASA flight engineer Anne McClain grappled Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus supply ship with the International Space Station’s robotic arm Friday, marking the automated cargo freighter’s arrival after an abbreviated day-and-a-half-long journey from a launch pad in Virginia with nearly 7,600 pounds of experiments, food and provisions.