Home / Science / Pence calls on NASA to land astronauts on the moon within five years – Spaceflight Now

Pence calls on NASA to land astronauts on the moon within five years – Spaceflight Now

Vice President Mike Pence will speak at NASA's Johnson Space Center in 2017. Credit: NASA / Robert Markowitz

Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday NASA should land astronauts near the South Pole of the Moon within five years, "urged" new urgency "in the US space program, warning a warning to entrenched Air carriers to better meet their time and cost commitments or lose their jobs to other companies.

"This is the declared policy of this administration and the United States of America to bring American astronauts to the moon within the next five years." said Pence. "The first woman and the next man on the moon will both be American astronauts fired by American rockets from American soil."

NASA and the Trump government wanted to land astronauts on the moon by 2028. Pence told National Space The council, whose chairman he is, will send President Trump recommendations for a "course correction at NASA".

"To do that, we need to double our efforts," Pence said.

During his remarks on Tuesday in the US Space and Missile Center in Huntsville, Alabama, near NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Pence selected the unruly Space Launch System – a heavy missile under development To Launch Crews Into Space – An Example Of A Program Afflicted With Bureaucratic Inertia

The space launch system is being developed in Marshall, where NASA's main rocket propulsion programs have been based since the 1960s.

Earlier in the month, SLS program managers said the first flight of the rocket was likely to be delayed by 2021, the latest in a series of deviations since the launch of the Launcher in 2011. At that time, the authorities said the SLS would be ready for an opening in 2017.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on March 13 that he had ordered engineers to test whether the NASA Orion capsule that was to launch the SLS could instead fly around the moon on an unpiloted test flight by entering Pair of commercial heavy-duty launchers used to hold the Orion Shakedown mission for 2020 on track and unleash further delays through SLS.

At the National Space Council meeting on Tuesday – after Pence's remarks – Bridenstine said he accepted the challenge of the Trump administration to land astronauts on the moon by 2024.

Our agency, NASA, will do everything in its power to fulfill this vision, to meet this deadline, and you have my full commitment to achieve that, "said Bridenstine. [19659012] This illustration shows the components of the Block 1 configuration of the Space Launch System. This release is for the first mission of the rocket, called Exploration Mission-1. Credit: NASA

Bridenstine said NASA's review of commercial launch options, which would likely include a combination of SpaceX and United Launch Alliance missiles, showed that there is a possibility of commercial boosters for deep space missions in the future The Space Launch System provides the safest way to land on the Moon by 2024.

"If we want to reach 2024, we have to have SLS," said Bridenstine.

But in his speech, Pence warned NASA and their The contractors should not assume that the space launch system is the only way to the moon.

"To achieve this goal, we need to accelerate the SLS program. However, the president has instructed NASA and the administrator Jim Bridesnteine ​​to achieve this goal is necessary, "said Pence. "To be successful, we need to focus on the mission through the means. You must consider all available options and platforms to achieve our goals, including industry, government and the entire US space company. Our government is committed to this goal. "

Pence expressed his commitment to the Marshall Space Flight Center, an institution once run by the German-American rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, chief architect of the Saturn 5 moon rocket.

] "To put it bluntly: We are not committed to any contractor. If our current contractors can not achieve this, we will find those who will do so, "said Pence. "If American industry can offer critical commercial services without government development, we buy them. And if commercial missiles are the only way to bring American astronauts to the moon in the next five years, then it will be commercial missiles.

"Urgency must be our watchword," Pence said. "If we do not reach our goal of bringing an American astronaut to the moon in the next five years, this is not an option."

However, the Trump government calls for a $ 375 million cut to fund the space launch system for the 2020 budget released for NASA in 2020 and the launch of a more powerful SLS upper tier, Orion Crew Capsules and modules for a mini-space station in lunar orbit can start moving to a single mission.

Prior to Pence's announcement on Tuesday, NASA initially planned to build a space complex in the lunar orbit called Gateway with contributions from international and commercial partners. NASA sees the gateway as a waypoint on its way to the lunar surface, where Orion spacecraft will moor astronauts before launching lunar aircraft that can carry crews and cargo between the gateway and the moon. NASA officials then said that the White House budget request for the 2020 budget would provide funding for maintaining a Moon Moon landing plan by 2028. Pence's statement on Tuesday did not mention the budget request, or stated how much an accelerated moon landing time could cost.

The first-stage first-stage liquid hydrogen tank was recently seen moving to NASA's Michoud assembly facility in New Orleans after technicians applied orange foam to the tank. Credit: NASA

Much of the delay in the Space Launch System is due to difficulties in assembling the Boeing's core rocket, which consists of a liquid oxygen tank, a liquid hydrogen tank, and an engine from top to bottom. 25 main engines from the Space Shuttle program.

A NASA Inspector General report in October criticized the agency and Boeing for cost and time overruns in the 64-meter SLS core phase, which has encountered development issues that delayed the first SLS launch date from late 2018 to mid-2020.

Two side-mounted solid fuel boosters, built by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems and also from the Shuttle era, will provide extra power to take off, giving the SLS a boost of 8.8 million pounds, 15 percent more as the Saturn 5 rocket used in the Apollo Lunar Program lends. The 32-storey Block 1 version of the SLS, in its original configuration, will also feature an upper stage derived from the ULA delta rocket with a single Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10 engine.

Bridenstine said exploration Upper Stage This would be delayed if the budget requirement of the Trump government is enacted. This is crucial for people to return to the moon for the first time since 1972.

"When we talk about the possibility of manifesting payloads together, we talk about attracting people to bring a spaceship with home modules simultaneously and simultaneously to the moon, we will need an exploration upper stage, and we'll likely do this early, with EM – 3, the third launch of the Space Launch System, "said Bridenstine. "There is much to achieve.

"We are working to make sure that every moment we use to develop SLS and the Orion capsule will do only what is absolutely necessary. First start and not add to the mix, be it an extra one Test or a serial assembly instead of a parallel assembly, "he said. "We try to eliminate any extra time to get to the first start as fast as possible."

Despite warnings from NASA's and Boeing's program managers that a delay of the first SLS launch by 2021 was likely, Bridenstine said to Pence At the meeting of the National Space Council on Tuesday he said, "He is confident that we will be the first Reach for SLS in 2020 and actually fly a crew capsule around the moon. "

Bridenstine did not provide any information about how the engineers could schedule the The Space Launch System, but Boeing said in a statement that managers are now planning to redesign the steps in integrating the core phase of NASA's Michoud assembly plant in New Orleans while technicians continue to work on the engine area, which has caused many of the SLS delays

"We have worked with NASA to design a final assembly manufacturing schedule that will enable simultaneous machining of the engine section as we move forward connect the rocket back and forth, "said Patrici a Soloveichik, a Boeing spokesman. "Previously, we expected the completion of the engine, by far the most complex element of the rocket. According to the new plan, we can work on both sections at the same time and put the engine section together horizontally in order to process all iterations of the rocket.

"We also streamlined our processes to the essentials of safety and quality, allowing us to move forward with great agility and speed," Soloveichik said in a statement released to Spaceflight Now.

The first-stage engine section of the first Space Launch System Test Flights at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana Credit: NASA / Jude Guidry

NASA said earlier this month that most workers have completed the equipment of the core-stage engine sections that serve as a structural anchor point for the four Main engines serve and numerous propellants, energy and data transport connections.

The powerplant area contains more than 500 sensors and 18 miles of cable, according to NASA.The workers attached a cork heat insulation to the outside of the propulsion module before moving into another part of the sprawling Factory moved by Michoud wur to perform further tests and install a tail fairing structure at the bottom of the engine section.

Legislators led by Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, long supported the Space Launch System, which NASA estimates will cost around $ 1 billion a year after completion of development.

Congress approved $ 2.15 billion for the Space Launch System program in fiscal year 2019, while the Trump Administration's budget proposal would reduce it by $ 375 million to approximately $ 1.78 billion.

Earlier this month, Shelby said he had done so in his role as chairman of the Budget Committee "more than just a passing interest in what NASA is doing," a report in Space News said.

"I also have a small interest in what they do in Hu Ntsville, Alabama," Shelby continued in a presentation by Marshall Center Director Jody Singer during a lunch in Washington, "Jody, you keep doing what you do. We will continue to finance you. "

But Pence reiterated that NASA and Boeing need to gain speed with the Space Launch System if the missile program survives.

"To develop these new technologies, NASA must opt ​​for an all-on-the-deck approach to procurement, contracts and partnerships," said Pence. "If a commercial company can provide rocket, lunar landing or other capabilities faster at a lower cost to the taxpayer than the status quo, NASA must have the authority and the courage to change course quickly and decisively to achieve that goal. "

Boeing said on Tuesday in a statement that it" relentlessly works … to do the absolute necessary to support a NASA launch in 2020 "and is" committed to the vision today of Vice President Pence to support today's vision. "[19659003]" Boeing and NASA have implemented changes in processes and technologies to accelerate production without sacrificing safety or quality. We remain on schedule to deliver the first SLS core phase to NASA by the end of this year, "Boeing said. 19659003] "As the commercial launch studies have shown, NASA has confirmed that SLS is still the best approach to reach our lunar targets, and reaffirms the importance of the upper exploration level of EM-3," said Boeing. "SLS is also the world's only super-heavy rocket that can safely transport astronauts into space with large payloads such as lander, habitat and gateway elements."

Lockheed Martin, chief contractor of NASA's Orion crew capsule, said in a statement that engineers have investigated what an accelerated moon landing plan would require.

"With the right level of commitment, urgency, and resources, people could run on the surface by 2024," the company said.

Artistic depiction of NASA's Orion space probe and its European-built service module propelled by an upper-stage engine to the moon. Credit: NASA

"Our concept would use an early version of the gateway that uses only the drive module and the docking port, bringing the critical activation elements into lunar orbit as quickly as possible," said Lockheed Martin. "It would also design the crewed lander for proven avionics, structures and propulsion systems from Orion's crew and service modules already built to explore near-lunar people."

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted: "It would be so inspiring for humanity to see humanity return to the moon!"

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is currently the most powerful launcher, but she can not send the Orion spacecraft to the moon Musk's company is also developing a new reusable space-saving spacecraft, with an upper segment known as Starship and a first stage called Super Heavy

The Starship and the Super Heavy could lift more cargo into space than the SLS and Musk tweeted on Tuesday, believing the starship might be ready to take people to the lunar surface within five years Present concepts have seen the Starship and the Super Heavy, which was supposed to be a launcher, rolling together an interplanetary transport vehicle and a lander in one.

SpaceX has designed a prototype Starship ("Hopper") for vertical take-off and landing tests at the company's factory near Brownsville, Texas.

"Sure, it's worth it to do our best!" Musk wrote. "It would be great to have a competitive, commercial program to build a lunar base that is result-oriented (no cost plus), so you are paid only for the safe delivery of freight."

In 2011, the Obama administration annulled the over-budget and behind-schedule Constellation lunar landing program. The White House and US Congress agreed to rescue the Orion spacecraft from the Constellation program, and align NASA's efforts to explore space on Mars.

NASA still has a long-term goal of sending astronauts to Mars, but plans to focus on the Moon first.

The space agency is just starting work on vehicles to get to the lunar surface, starting with an initiative to buy rides for new commercial lander. None of the commercial lander has flown in space so far, but NASA hopes to seed the privately owned Lander concepts, much as the government encouraged new commercial cargo ships and crew carriers for the International Space Station (ISS).

The landing site for The Astronauts 'Return to the Moon will be near the South Pole of the Moon, where scientists have found evidence of water-ice on the craters' soils in permanent shadow. The ice could be harvested and converted into rocket fuel, creating a tank farm for the Moon Visits.

Pence referred to the recent success of the Chinese Chang & # 39; e-4 probe, which reached the first controlled landing on the other side of the Atlantic Moon in January.

"What we need now is urgency," Pence said. : Do not fool yourself, we're in a space race today, just like in the 1960s, and the stakes are even higher.

"It is not only a contest against our opponents, but also a race against our opponents The worst enemy: complacency," said Pence.

However, there remains an open question as to how the Trump administration accelerated the acceleration Moon landing plans Bridenstine is scheduled to testify on Wednesday at a hearing held by the House Appropriations Committee jury responsible for drawing up NASA's budget.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1 .

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