CHANTILLY, VA. – Despite strong public support for NASA's efforts to return people to the moon as a step toward Mars, concerns over the agency's plans are expressed in a series of recommendations endorsed by the National Space Council on 20 August
At its sixth public meeting since its re-establishment two years ago, the Council did not discuss the recommendations when it was presented at the end of the two-hour meeting by Vice-President Mike Pence, the chairman of the Council. Pence briefly described the recommendations and urged councilors to approve them. Members did so unanimously and without debate.
At the end of August, the Council issued recommendations mainly on three areas: exploration and international cooperation, issues of commercial space and industrial base, and acquisition and reform of NASA's workforce.
Exploration recommendations include an indication of uncertainty about the status of the space launch system and the Orion spacecraft. "At the next council meeting, the NASA administrator will present a plan to stabilize the Space Launch System and Orion programs and prevent future cost and schedule overruns," the recommendation states. "The plan will include the current scheduled launch windows for the first two launches of these vehicles."
NASA has not presented an updated timetable for the first SLS / Orion mission, Artemis 1
At the meeting, Pence did not raise any concerns about SLS or Orion. NASA sought to bring people back to the Moon, was "on track" and named milestones in the development of both SLS and Orion. SLS, he said, "will be fully assembled by the end of this year," pointing to the completion of the missile's long-delayed core phase.
Another recommendation asks the NASA administrator to "designate an office and." submit to the Chairman of the National Space Council a plan for sustainable lunar surface exploration and development, including the technologies and capabilities required to enable first human missions to Mars. "
Pence put a new emphasis on the importance of a long life stays on the moon and learns in his remarks how to deal with resources. "Unlike half a century ago, our goal this time will be to establish a permanent presence on the lunar surface and from there to develop the possibilities to travel to the red planet of Mars," he said. NASA has given only a few details about what kind of long-term lunar presence it will have when it returns to the Moon for a short time in 2024 international cooperation. "Lunar surface operations will be NASA's top priority for international cooperation."
Two other recommendations address the management of NASA's exploration programs. NASA is urged to work with the Office of Human Resources Management and the Office of Management and Budget on the state of the modernization efforts of the workforce until the next Council meeting to remove the obstacles that hamper NASA's ability to meet its critical mission requirements. "
The other calls on NASA and the Department of Defense to report" that efforts have been made to mitigate industry-based barriers and restrictions, in accordance with the requirements of the Defense Production Act, pending the submission of a DX rating package. to perform the 2024 moon landing mission for humans. "The Ministry of Defense uses a" DX rating "for programs with the highest national priority, giving them priority in awarding contracts to other programs.
Pence hinted in his speech at changes he was attempting to make to NASA's management of programs and personnel. "We will continue to transform NASA into a leaner, more accountable and agile organization," he said. "We will make it easier than ever to recruit and retain the best scientists, engineers and managers in the world, and we will achieve our goals and write new American history in space."
Several recommendations addressed commercialization issues, including an invitation to NASA "to report on potential lunar resources to support sustainable lunar activities and scientific opportunities that trade partners could be involved with". Another recommendation advised the Commerce Department to investigate the health status of the commercial space sector and the United States within 90 days of factors affecting it, "including proposals to strengthen US market leadership in the area of commercial spaceflight".
One recommendation addresses the long-standing concerns of some commercial space companies about the lack of regulatory powers for so-called "non-traditional" activities of commercial space stations to lunar countries. Article 6 of the Space Treaty requires that countries provide for "permit and continued surveillance," but for many commercial space activities, no US government agency has this clear responsibility.
The recommendation instructs the Department of Commerce to report within 90 days Such commercial space activities, which are not regulated by agencies today, then work together with the Department of Transportation to "draw up a roadmap that will keep it up to date and up-to-date United States evolving commercial space activities enable it to obtain a permit in accordance with appropriate federal regulations. "
Another recommendation calls for the creation of a "Moon Mars development strategy, commercialization in Earth orbit, research into robots and humans, national security capabilities and international cooperation for NASA, including science, security and economic growth. "At plan is developed by National Space Council staff and completed within 180 days.
Many of the recommendations approved at the meeting on August 20 request action at the next Council meeting, but this meeting is not planned. Previous council meetings took place every four to five months.