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NASA Sets Out Its Red Lines for 2024 Moon Landing

Article by John Varge                                May 16, 2020                             (express.co.uk)

• The ‘Artemis Program’ is NASA’s project – supported by other international space programs and private companies – to establish a permanent human settlement on the Moon by 2028, beginning by landing two astronauts near the lunar south pole in 2024. On May 15th, NASA officials revealed the core values underpinning its mission in a document called the Artemis Accords (see here). NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted: “Today I’m honored to announce the #Artemis Accords agreements — establishing a shared vision and set of principles for all international partners that join in humanity’s return to the Moon. We go, together.”

• NASA said its over-riding vision was to “create a safe and transparent environment which facilitates exploration, science and commercial activities for all of humanity to enjoy.” This vision is in accordance with the “peaceful purposes only” principles enshrined in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, the founding document of international space law, which has been ratified by more than 100 countries, including the US.

• The Accords seek to ensure no “harmful interference” by one nation in the off-Earth affairs of another, and to publicly disclose their exploration plans and policies as well as sharing their scientific data. Artemis partners pledge to protect historic sites and artefacts on the Moon and other cosmic locales, as well as to help minimize space-junk.

• Private Moon landers will begin to ferry NASA science and technology experiments to the lunar surface next year. The Accords also cover the space mining of resources on the Moon, Mars and asteroids conducted under the auspices of the Outer Space Treaty. Moon landers will be built by commercial companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX. SpaceX is currently developing its huge ‘Starship’ vehicle to help colonize Mars. Starship will launch atop a huge rocket called ‘Super Heavy’, but will land on, and launch off of, the Moon and Mars on its own. Other companies awarded contracts, worth a total of $967 million for 10 months of work, are Blue Origin and Dynetics.

• NASA’s Jim Bridenstine said, “This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis program.” “America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024,” including the first woman set foot on the lunar surface.

 

The US Space Agency has always recognised that international cooperation will be vital if its Artemis programme is to succeed. Artemis is the ambitious project to land two astronauts near the lunar south pole in 2024, as a precursor to establishing a permanent human lunar settlement by 2028. On Friday, NASA officials revealed the core values underpinning its mission in a document called the Artemis Accords, which stress the peaceful nature of its exploration.

In a tweet, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote: “It’s a new dawn for space exploration!

NASA’s Jim Bridenstine and SpaceX’s Elon Musk, doing his famous ‘Zoolander’ impression

“Today I’m honored to announce the #Artemis Accords agreements — establishing a shared vision and set of principles for all international partners that join in humanity’s return to the Moon.

“We go, together.”

In accordance with principles enshrined in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, NASA said its over-riding vision was to “create a safe and transparent environment which facilitates exploration, science and commercial activities for all of humanity to enjoy.”

The outer Space Treaty (OST) is the founding document of international space law.

It has been ratified by more than 100 countries, including the United States and other leading space powers.

The OTS stipulates that space exploration should be carried out for peaceful purposes only.

Artemis partners will also be required to be completely transparent about their activities, which means publicly disclosing their exploration plans and policies as well as sharing their scientific data.

The Accords also cover space mining, which NASA sees as key to humanity’s exploration efforts over the long haul.

NASA officials said the ability to extract and use resources on the moon, Mars and even asteroids would be critical “to support safe and sustainable space exploration and development”.

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SpaceX’s Starship Might Start Flying Moon Missions in 2022

 

Article by Mike Wall                                 November 19, 2019                              (space.com)

• In order to pass the costs of space travel to the private sector, 14 companies have been selected by NASA to participate in the space agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. Buying a ride on a private craft, rather than developing and building its own landers, will theoretically save the agency big bucks. Of these 14 companies, five have been invited to make a contract bid on a NASA payload scheduled for 2022.

• One of these five selected companies is Elon Musk’s ‘SpaceX’. Musk would rely on SpaceX’s reusable spaceship-rocket duo known as ‘Starship’ and ‘Super Heavy’. Starship is capable of carrying 110 tons (100 metric tons) to the moon’s surface. So there will be plenty of room to ferry gear for a variety of customers in its primarily unmanned cargo ships to the moon and Mars. The Starship and the Super Heavy are equipped to accommodate a manned crew as well.

• SpaceX does have one crewed Starship mission on its docket already. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has booked a flight around the moon for himself and a handful of artists in 2023.

• The other four companies that are eligible for lunar payloads are California-based Ceres Robotics and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems Inc.; Sierra Nevada Corp. of Colorado; and Washington-based Blue Origin, which will use its Blue Moon lander. Among the rest, ‘Astrobotic’ and ‘Intuitive Machines’ are already scheduled to deliver NASA science gear and a variety of other payloads to the lunar surface in July 2021.

• NASA views the privatization of space transport as a key to its Artemis program which aims to put two astronauts, including the first woman, on the moon by 2024 and establish a long-term human presence there by 2028. In May, NASA selected 11 private companies to build a prototype crewed Artemis lander. The companies submitted detailed proposals on November 8th. NASA is expected to pick the four finalists by early next year. In the meantime, unmanned commercial spacecraft will transport a variety of NASA experiments and hardware to the lunar surface that will pave the way for the astronaut pioneers. (see 1:11 minute NASA promo video for the Artemis Program below)

 

SpaceX’s huge Mars-colonizing Starship vehicle could make its first extraterrestrial touchdown just three short years.

SpaceX is one of five companies that are newly eligible to deliver robotic payloads to the lunar surface for NASA, via the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. SpaceX proposes to do this work with Starship and Super Heavy, the reusable spaceship-rocket duo that the company is developing primarily to help humanity become a multiplanet species.

                             Elon Musk

And Starship could start putting NASA payloads down on Earth’s nearest neighbor quite soon, if all goes according to plan.

“We are aiming to be able to drop Starship on the lunar surface in 2022,” SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said during a NASA-organized CLPS teleconference Monday (Nov. 18).

SpaceX is not guaranteed to fly a CLPS mission that year, or any year. SpaceX is just eligible now to bid on NASA lunar delivery services; it will still have to beat out the rest of the CLPS pool, which is now 14 companies strong, for each moon contract.

And each mission that Starship flies under the CLPS banner will almost certainly ferry gear for a variety of customers. Starship is capable of carrying 110 tons (100 metric tons) to the moon’s dusty gray surface on each trip, Shotwell said, and it’s hard to imagine NASA filling out that manifest by itself.

NASA views CLPS as a key enabler of its Artemis program of crewed lunar exploration, which aims to put two astronauts, including the first woman, on the moon by 2024 and establish a long-term human presence there by 2028.

1:11 minute NASA promo video on the Artemis Generation (NASA YouTube)

 

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