September 21, 2021

SOME PEOPLE SEE BLUE ORIGIN BEHIND THIS: NASA to split leadership of its human spaceflight program. “As part of the reorganization, the agency’s current leader of all human spaceflight activities, Kathy Lueders, will see her duties pared back. NASA has also brought back a former senior manager, Jim Free, to serve as a program leader. . . . Lueders, by most accounts, has done a commendable job in recent years. Under her leadership, NASA and SpaceX managed to push the commercial crew program safely over the finish line, with Crew Dragon now flying operational missions to the International Space Station. She has also managed to steer the Artemis program forward, selecting SpaceX to build a Human Landing System in April and persisting with that decision despite an uproar in Congress and a lawsuit by another lander bidder, Blue Origin.”

Flashback: NASA’s bold bet on Starship for the Moon may change spaceflight forever. “When NASA astronauts return to the Moon in a few years, they will do so inside a lander that dwarfs that of the Apollo era. SpaceX’s Starship vehicle measures 50 meters from its nose cone to landing legs. By contrast, the cramped Lunar Module that carried Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin down to the Moon in 1969 stood just 7 meters tall. This is but one of many genuinely shocking aspects of NASA’s decision a week ago to award SpaceX—and only SpaceX—a contract to develop, test, and fly two missions to the lunar surface. The second flight, which will carry astronauts to the Moon, could launch as early as 2024.”

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