Artists concept of NASA’s proposed Lunar
Orbital Platform-Gateway for human crewed missions to deep space, targeting the first element launch in 2022. Credit: NASA
— SpaceUpClose.com — 13 Feb 2018
SPACE CENTER, FL- The Trump Administration is charting a new course for
NASA that redirects the space agency to focus on Lunar exploration as a near
term goal and thereby extend a human presence into deep space that will
eventually lead to missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond – as part of the key strategic
announcement that President Trump is proposing in the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget request of $19.9 Billion.
FY 2019 budget maintains funding for many high priority NASA programs currently
underway such as the development of the new heavy lift Space Launch System (SLS)
rocket and Orion crew capsule for human missions to deep space, the Boeing
Starliner and SpaceX Dragon commercial crew space taxis for human missions to
low Earth orbit and the International Space Station (ISS) as well as robotic
missions to Mars and Europa.
proposal calls for jump starting the Lunar initiative by building a mini space
station in lunar orbit named the “Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway.” The first element – a power and propulsion
module – would launch in 2022. NASA
will also begin developing a series of small robotic commercial lunar landers
that eventually will lead to a human lunar lander.
contrast, the future of the ISS and its world class science program is in serious doubt and the flagship class WFIRST (Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope) astronomy
science mission launching in the mid 2020s as a follow on to the JWST would be cancelled
by NASA’s acting administrator Robert Lightfoot on Feb. 12 represents an increase
of about $400 million over the 2018 budget. That
amounts to barely a 2% increase over FY 2018.
today provides $19.9 billion for NASA,” said Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s acting administrator, during the
Feb. 12 ‘State of NASA’ speech at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in
Huntsville, Alabama, outlining the agency’s budget, strategy and priorities in
the coming year and beyond. Marshall is agency’s
lead rocket development center.
$400 million increase in terms what we’ve had, that we’re working to right now
as an agency. It reflects the Administration’s confidence that America
will lead the way back to the Moon and take the next giant leap from where we made
that first small step for humanity nearly 50 years ago.”
innovative and sustainable campaign of exploration and lead the return of
humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization followed by human
missions to Mars and other destinations,” according to the accompanying NASA budget
eye toward Mars,” said Lightfoot.
EM-1 mission will take place in 2020 from the Kennedy Space Center followed by the
first crewed mission on EM-2 which will send American astronauts to the Moon in
integrated launch of the [SLS/Orion] system is in fiscal year 2020 around the
Moon and a mission with crew in 2023,” said Lightfoot.
Apollo 17 in 1972, and will establish U.S. leadership in cislunar space.”
Orion EM-1 crew module under construction at NASA’s Kennedy
Space Center in Florida is targeted to launch in FY 2020 atop first SLS rocket
from Launch Complex-39A. Credit: Ken
station orbiting the Moon named ‘Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway’ starting in
build the in-space infrastructure for long-term exploration development of our nearest
neighbor by launching the power and propulsion element in 2022 to orbit the
Moon as the foundation of a Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway,” Lightfoot stated.
million for the Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway.
vicinity that will drive our activity with commercial and international
partners and help us further explore the Moon and its resources and translate that
experience toward human missions to Mars.”
commercial rocket rather that the SLS.
NASA CFO Andrew Hunter told Space UpClose.
EM-2 because that’s going to be in 2023,” Hunter told me during a
briefing with reporters after Lightfoot’s speech.
actually want an earlier milestone on the power and propulsion element, and
there’s a very good chance it will launch on a commercial launch vehicle,
although we’ll probably look at SLS possibilities as well. It’s a timing issue.
We want to actually get it launched earlier.”
companies to conduct four-month studies on the power and propulsion element.
They are Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corp and Space
NASA because the Trump Administration is offering insufficient funding to continue
other very high priority agency programs such as the ISS and the WFIRST astrophysics mission.
support for the space station after 2024 and transition it somehow to commercial
partners, read our accompanying story, and to outright cancel WFIRST.
to the commercial sector and end direct federal government support of the
International Space Station in 2025 and begin relying on commercial partners
for our low Earth orbit research and technology demonstration requirements,” Lightfoot
on how to carry out the transition to the undefined privatized commercial
investment in 2019 to encourage the U.S. space industry development of capabilities
for Low Earth Orbit either at the ISS or stand-alone that both the private
sector and NASA can use.”
more capable robotic lunar missions to the surface of the moon using innovative
acquisition approaches while meeting national exploration and scientific
lunar exploration efforts in close coordination with the Human Exploration
folks,’ Lightfoot elaborated.
and lunar resource characterization efforts with small landers as our scouts
followed by larger landers that can begin lunar surface mobility and sample
return of lunar resources soon thereafter — potentially through the Lunar
decision to halt funding will be fought by members of Congress from both
little in the way of FY 2019 funding resources that refocuses NASA on human
lunar exploration while ending federal support of science operations on the ISS
and terminating the top priority WFIRST mission which was to follow up on the
Hubble Space Telescope and James Webb Space Telescope.
“We had to make some hard decisions as well in Science, and
this budget proposes cancelling the WFIRST mission in astrophysics and
redirects those resources to other Agency priorities,” explained Lightfoot.
2010. That means it was NASA’s most important astrophysics space telescope
science project for the coming decade. Killing this mission is another terrible
strike against science by the Trump Administration.
the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024 – just over five years from
now – and maybe turn it over to private industry to operate on a commercial
basis or building something entirely new, according to the newly released
Fiscal Year 2019 Budget request for the space agency.
forward could have disastrous consequences for US leadership in space and
newly proposed lunar landers as well as continued support for the Mars 2020 and
Europa Clipper missions being built.
strongly, with funding in this budget for the next Mars rover launch in 2020, funding
to explore possibilities of returning samples from Mars, and a Europa Clipper
mission to fly repeatedly by Jupiter’s icy ocean moon Europa.”
However there are no
new planetary missions besides the lunar landers. For example the Europa lander
is not funded
he sees a bright future ahead for NASA.
have to do, this 2019 budget sets the stage for an exciting decade of the
2020’s where we take our next giant leaps.”
transporting crews routinely to the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, and they
will be transiting to and from the lunar surface and preparing to move even
further into deep space.”
ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK and more space and mission
reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force
Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com –
twitter @ken_kremer – ken