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.
Former Johnson Space Center Director Christopher Columbus Kraft Jr., the man who created the iconic role of NASA flight director during the Mercury and Gemini programs and whose no-nonsense, uncompromising management style defined control room operations and discipline through the Apollo years and beyond, died Monday. He was 95.
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.