NASA Aces Artemis I, But The Journey Has Just Begun

When NASA’s Orion capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean yesterday afternoon, it marked the end of a journey that started decades ago. The origins of the Orion capsule can be tracked back to a Lockheed Martin proposal from the early 2000s, and development of the towering Space Launch System rocket that sent it on its historic trip around the Moon started back in 2011 — although few at the time could have imagined that’s what it would end up being used for. The intended mission for the incredibly powerful Shuttle-derived rocket  changed so many times over the years that for a time it was referred to as the “Rocket to Nowhere”, as it appeared the agency couldn’t decide just where they wanted to send their flagship exploration vehicle.

But today, for perhaps the first time, the future of the SLS and Orion seem bright. The Artemis I mission wasn’t just a technical success by about pretty much every metric you’d care to use, it was also a public relations boon the likes of which NASA has rarely seen outside the dramatic landings of their Mars rovers. Tens of millions of people watched the unmanned mission blast off towards the Moon, a prelude to the global excitement that will surround the crewed follow-up flight currently scheduled for 2024.

As NASA’s commentators reminded viewers during the live streamed segments of the nearly 26-day long mission around the Moon, the test flight officially ushered in what the space agency is calling the Artemis Generation, a new era of lunar exploration that picks up where the Apollo left off. Rather than occasional hasty visits to its beautiful desolation, Artemis aims to lay the groundwork for a permanent human presence on our natural satellite.

With the successful conclusion of the Artemis I, NASA has now demonstrated effectively two-thirds of the hardware and techniques required to return humans to the surface of the Moon: SLS proved it has the power to send heavy payloads beyond low Earth orbit, and the long-duration flight Orion took around our nearest celestial neighbor ensured it’s more than up to the task of ferrying human explorers on a shorter and more direct route.

But of course, it would be unreasonable to expect the first flight of such a complex vehicle to go off without a hitch. While the primary mission goals were all accomplished, and the architecture generally met or exceeded pre-launch expectations, there’s still plenty of work to be done before NASA is ready for Artemis II.

Taming the SLS

The idea behind the SLS was to use flight-proven hardware from the Space Shuttle, namely the RS-25 engines and solid rocket boosters (SRBs), as a time and cost saving measure. Unfortunately, much like the dreams of rapid reusability for the Shuttle itself, the reality of the situation ended up being considerably more complicated. While the SLS engines and boosters started their lives as Shuttle parts, their final form was different enough that it took years of testing and research to be sure the numerous modifications made to the legacy hardware would work as expected.

These delays extended right up to the launch itself, which was held back several times due to technical issues. Of particular note were the difficulties experienced when loading propellants onto the vehicle, which ranged from numerous leaks to jammed valves. These delays became increasingly worrisome, as some components of the rocket were only rated to remain viable for a certain amount of time. If the rocket didn’t launch before the end of the year, some key components would have to be pulled off, examined, and potentially replaced — further delaying the mission.

Artemis I clears the tower. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Ultimately, after several trips to and from the pad, the issues were resolved and the SLS roared skyward from Launch Complex 39B on November 16th at 1:37 Eastern Time. The launch was spectacular by all accounts, as the world’s most powerful operational rocket briefly turned night into day over the Florida coast.

Of course, such teething issues with a new rocket design are hardly unexpected, and the knowledge gained during this launch will surely help streamline ground operations during Artemis II. But those weren’t the only issues ground teams ran into — it turns out that the exhaust from the SLS did considerable damage to the launch pad, including blowing the doors off the crew elevators.

Luckily, there’s plenty of time to make repairs. It will be at least a year and half before another SLS lifts off from Complex 39B, and by then they will likely have found ways to strengthen the parts of the pad that were hit the hardest. What’s important is that the oft-maligned megarocket performed perfectly, with a deviation of less than 0.3% from NASA’s projections.

Hampered Hitchhikers

As we reported earlier, ten CubeSats were packed inside the stage adapter that connected the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) to the Orion capsule. After the capsule moved a safe distance away, these independent spacecraft were automatically dispensed so they could continue on with their own missions. At least, that was the idea.

Between the relatively fragile nature of the CubeSats, and the fact that some of them could not have their batteries charged once they were installed in the rocket, it was always unlikely that all of the craft would survive. At the time of this writing, six seven of the ten CubeSats packed away on Artemis I are currently operational, and unfortunately some of the most ambitious missions are among the casualties.

NEA Scout with solar sail deployed

Japan’s OMOTENASHI was designed to demonstrate the ability to land small scientific payloads on the lunar surface at extreme low cost, but mission controllers were unable to establish stable communications with the craft after it separated from the ICPS.

It’s believed the CubeSat failed to orient its solar panels properly, and thus was unable to charge its batteries. If this is the case, there may still be a chance to reestablish contact with the craft at a later date as it travels through deep space, but the window to make a lunar landing has already past.

NASA’s own Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout) was sadly a complete failure, as ground controllers were never able to establish communication with the craft. An emergency signal was transmitted which should have triggered the deployment of the CubeSat’s 85 m2 (910 sq ft) solar sail, but telescope observations confirmed it was never unfurled. It’s also being reported that ground controllers have lost communications with the CubeSat to Study Solar Particles (CuSP) and Team Miles spacecraft.

Update: As of December 9th, ground stations have picked up a signal from the Team Miles CubeSat.

While the loss of these missions is disappointing, surviving craft such as the Italian Space Agency’s ArgoMoon demonstrator, Japan’s EQUULEUS, and NASA’s BioSentinel promise to deliver fascinating data in the coming months.

Orion’s Trial by Fire

As the Orion capsule already performed a successful demonstration flight back in 2014 as part of the Exploration Flight Test-1, NASA was already fairly confident in the capabilities of their latest human-rated spacecraft. But there was still one component of the system that hadn’t quite been put through its paces: the heat shield.

During the 2014 orbital test, Orion reentered the Earth’s atmosphere at approximately 8.9 km/s (20,000 mph), which resulted in the heat shield being exposed to temperatures as high as 2,200 °C (4,000 °F). But as it was returning from a far higher orbit for Artemis I, the reentry velocity was significantly increased. This time around the ablative material on the bottom of the capsule, known as Avcoat, was heated to 2,800 °C (5,000 °F) while hitting the atmosphere at 11.2 km/s (25,000 mph).

In addition, NASA also used Artemis I to test a new “skip maneuver” during entry. Rather than simply plowing through the atmosphere like the Space Shuttle did, this approach sees the capsule literally bounce off the upper atmosphere to kill off some of its initial velocity, before settling back down for a second reentry event. The advantage of this approach is that it not only reduces the g-forces experienced by the crew, but allows for greater accuracy during splashdown. Artemis crews will end their missions closer to the coast of the United States than their Apollo predecessors, which will allow for more rapid recovery operations.

Diving into the Data

Obviously, the fact that the Orion capsule traveled around the Moon and returned safely to Earth means the Artemis I mission was an overall success. But there’s still an incredible amount of data that needs to be analyzed before engineers will really know how the vehicle performed and where improvements can be made. There’s also data from scientific experiments aboard the craft, such as the sensor-laden manikin sitting in the commander’s seat, that so far NASA hasn’t commented on. As we move from the quick visits of Apollo to the long-duration stays of later Artemis missions, information on how the deep space environment impacts the human body will be critical.

So while today the folks at NASA are likely taking a well deserved break to celebrate the return of Orion and the completion of the first official Artemis mission, their work is far from over. Expect to see many announcements and reports released throughout 2023 as engineering teams make sense of the terabytes worth of information that was collected during this unprecedented deep space flight. We’re excited by the promise of the Artemis Generation, and can’t wait to see what discoveries lie over the horizon.

51 thoughts on “NASA Aces Artemis I, But The Journey Has Just Begun

  1. A monumental waste of money. Let’s try fixing the damage we have done to Earth before we go joyriding around the Moon. There’s nothing we can learn from live astronauts that we can’t learn from robotics at a tiny fraction of the cost.

    1. I’m really rather getting tired of this non-argument. It is fundamentally flawed on all levels. There is no reason why we could not do both at the same time. Well, there is a reason why we can not fix the damage to our planet at this point in time which is the lack of international cooperation, but stopping space exploration projects will not help this reality.

      International cooperation is also needed in space by the way. If we do not pull together as a species this century, both the climate and access to space will be ruined for the forceable future. Climate science also depends on space science, so we are not talking about non-overlapping disciplines here.

      Apart from the innate human tendency to explore, through which we learn by experience, there of course is a massive amount we can learn from it that can’t be replicated by robots. For instance, if we endeavour to live in space or on the moon, we need to learn how to cure/prevent cancer. Seemingly there is not enough incentive to do that on earth, so lets do that in space.

      If we deny ourselves our curiosity and sense of exploration, we might just as well give up on the climate and other problems because we would diminish as a species by denying our nature.

      1. You claim the argument is flawed, but you give no good reason why.

        Everything you said we can do on Earth. We don’t magically create incentive to cure cancer by exposing an astronaut to radiation. We can get together and solve diseases, and work on a viable energy future. There’s plenty of huge projects to work on together. None of that is going to happen any quicker by sending a handful of people to walk on the Moon in a project that nobody cares about.

        1. They do –
          The argument is flawed because it assumes money spent on space is taking away resources from the fight against climate change. There is actually plenty of money to go around but most of it is holed up in far dumber places.

          The original comment also makes the assumption that *money* is needed to solve climate change, which isn’t really true either. We need regulation and international cooperation, which even more so are not being hindered in any way by space research.

      2. I worked on aerospace for NASA contractors for 30 years. Pick any other subject area. Climate, social, medical, whatever. The money is better spent there than on NASA. They have not refreshed personnel. They are driven by politics, not science. I know the waste and incompetence. They fund mega-contractors because it’s easier rather than fostering innovation with small contractors. Space-X ran rings around them in years rather than decades. The big players are anxiously awaiting their piece of the pie launching monstrous disposable rockets costing billions per seat with outdated technology. If you want to pursue space it needs to be done by an entity other than NASA and not managed by senators anxious to get their share of lobbying cash. Robots give returns in years with minimal risk. If/when you can prove that a manned mission is necessary rather than simply academic posturing, then work on manned missions.

        1. “I worked on aerospace for NASA contractors”

          Just think for a bit why the US government might want to keep certain aerospace personnel employed. NASA itself has been trying to get out of the “rocket design” business for years now. Congress keeps forcing them back in.

        2. “not managed by senators anxious to get their share of lobbying cash”

          That is THE core of the problem with most everything that is taxpayer funded. Scientific value doesn’t take priority.

          Q: Why haven’t humans returned to the moon for 50 years?
          A: Because it never made economic gain or scientific return sense in the first place that even remotely justified the huge cost. Even JFK asked if robotics could be used instead when he found out how much the Apollo program was actually going to cost, but he’d already made the pledge.

          Q: So why is it back?
          A: For the same reason as in the 1960s, but for Cold War v2.0 with that other country now bragging about its mostly scientifically useless space station and the government money bloated legacy aerospace industry wanting the expensive but mostly scientifically useless manned spaceflight, too.

          Q: But what about colonizing Mars to protect humanity from extinction?
          A: So get far more serious about planetary defense rather than biologically contaminating Mars at huge expense so we can never answer for certain one of the most important scientific questions ever asked – did life evolve beyond Earth?

          Book: The End of Astronauts: Why Robots Are the Future of Exploration – 2022

    2. Wasted money is the $billions of covid relief money stolen by international organized crime. This NASA managed money is spent on the research and manufacturing of high tech systems that we need to maintain in peace time.

      1. It’s a jobs program. Parts must be made in every congressional district.

        Repurposed shuttle parts and it still costs the same per flight (inflation adjusted) as the Saturn V did (including development costs).

        Insanity. SpaceX will put them out of business soon enough.

    3. Mere life. Humanity as yeast. Never try to accomplish anything until we’re feeding and maintaining 50 billion mouths at home.
      We are not going to “fix” Earth, by the way. We are going to hit a wall and nature will fix Earth.

    4. Why must our thinking be binary, either/or? Why not do both? Spaceflight consumes far less than ONE percent of the money we could reasonably spend on bettering the earth. Spaceflight has also already contributed to making the Earth’s environment better through all sorts of remote sensing technologies. In materials technologies LOTS of discoveries coming from the space program have made it possible to do more with less materials, which is the catchphrase of environmental consciousness.

    5. On earth, there are multiple nations fighting each other’s like bad children on the playground.

      In space, humanity comes together as one.
      Space exploration requires cooperation and mutual respect.
      It requires the sharing of resources.

      Space exploration can be a driving force for peace.
      That’s how it was in cold war, at least.
      People acted mature and compassionate, despite having their differences on earth.

      Automatic robots and space probes alone don’t suffice.

      That’s why the exclusion of China -by the USA out of fear- from the International Space Station was such a mistake, perhaps.
      Now China does its own thing, successfully, after years of “begging” to be allowed to contribute to the ISS project. It’s all because corporation was denied. IMHO.

        1. I think you underestimate the symbolic value here.

          Humans are social beings by nature.
          That’s how they survived since their earliest times, together in groups.
          Humans have a need for harmony and a desire for being good.

          Let’s go and ask people on street if they want to be mean, ruthless beings.
          People aren’t as bad as misanthropes make it seem.
          When it matters, they help as best as they can handle it –
          at least here in old Europe.
          We don’t rob stores in a disaster with waving guns.

          Humans are simply very vulnerable to manipulation, all in all.
          It starts in childhood, sometimes. A negative worldview in the raising of children causes things like that, I believe. Let’s take the USA here, with its “obsession” with taxes, money and the job/career. That way of thinking is rather alien here in Europe. Anyway, all these ideologies have a lasting effect and form people’s mindset, I suppose.

          Also, the times of peace were longer than that of war, I think.
          But peaceful times aren’t as interesting to the history books.
          They get overshadowed quickly by times of war.
          Especially if they were hefty (yes, I think WW2 was horrible and wrong).
          So maybe we don’t know the whole story about war/peace times yet. Archeologists find new parts of the puzzle every few years.
          Oh, let’s don’t forget the traumatic experience of war that sometimes lasts for generations to come. People don’t want to have the horrors being repeated. And governments.. They change.

          1. I think you overestimate goodness in people. Sadly, people are only social with those that they feel are like themselves or think like themselves. People inherently think they are right and are willing to destroy others that don’t think or behave their way.

          2. I appreciate a lot of what you said but I want to point one thing out. Here in the USA at least we have a long history of robbing stores during disasters. We call it looting. Like the people grabbing big screen tvs from stores when the city is flooding (katrina)

  2. I find it rather interesting that people are calling this a success. Yes, in terms of getting a vehicle to the moon and back, it was successful, and if that is your only measure, then by all means pat NASA on the back, and feel good.

    If, however, you consider cost/schedule/complexity, this is a resounding failure. “Just reusing” shuttle tech, original schedule proposed by nasa was “As noted earlier, the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 directs NASA to begin development of the SLS vehicle “as soon as practicable after the date of the enactment” and with the goal of achieving operational capability for the core elements not later than December 31, 2016.”

    and for orion

    “As noted earlier, the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 directs NASA to begin development of the MPCV with the goal of achieving full operational capability not later than December 31, 2016”

    nearly 7 years later…and this isn’t really operational yet…though it should now have passed the final test to being operational….if the H2 leaks and other problems that plagued it this year are worked out.

    In addition to the schedule difficulties, it’s budgetary problems are just as bad. “The FY 2011 Senate Appropriations Report would fund the SLS at $1.9B in FY 2011, and with a proposed cost cap of $11.5B through FY 2017” 11.5 Billion. If only! Instead, SLS alone cost 23.8 Billion as of 2022 (including 2022). The orion program similarly went overbudget costing us 20.4 Billion. To “just reuse shuttle technology”. Worse yet, each launch is set to cost 4.1 billion! So the budget is set to balloon to a total of 95 billion by 2025!

    Can we really call this a success?! Again, on mission objectives, congrats. On cost/schedule – abject failure. On launch costs? I’d still call it a failure. Finally, in terms of generating support for NASA, I can’t see them receiving funding for another rocket design again unless they change their ways. Several small companies are demonstrating smaller rockets. One company has made a heavy, and is developing a super heavy. Another is developing a super heavy. I suspect the other companies with successful smaller rockets will follow into the superheavy soon enough. So unless there is some compelling reason to have NASA develop another ludicrously expensive system, I suspect this is the end of the road for NASA rockets. So, again, an utter failure.

    This isn’t to detract from the difficulty of what was done, especially getting it right the first time…but fail fast constantly proves to be cheaper/faster than no fail.

      1. “The competence of NASA (and engineering in general)”

        NASA. Did. Not. Want. To. Design. This.

        They’ve been trying to get out of the rocket design business for like, forever. NASA wants to design scientific missions, not launch vehicles. They didn’t even really *design* this anyway: it’s subcontracted, and it’s not like there’s super-new advanced technology or something in it.

        In fact, if you look at how the project’s turned out – basically into a SpaceX Starship feeder fund – questioning NASA’s competence is just about the stupidest thing you could say. They managed to make both their political overlords happy *and* still fund a better commercial launch vehicle.

    1. NASA is one of the biggest funders of SpaceX. They’re not stupid – they were given a mandate to make their own rocket, and they do that while hedging their bets and funding SpaceX on everything from launching satellites to crew. Also, say what you will but SLS flew before Starship did. Starship may never fly. NASA is very risk averse and SpaceX isn’t. I know whose rocket I’d sooner be sitting in.

    2. “but fail fast constantly proves to be cheaper/faster than no fail.”

      So far there is much more evidence to the contrary. SpaceX has had the same amount of time as SLS to develope a moon rocket but still doesn’t have a viable second stage that can cary a crew. So far they have done little more than what Macdonald Douglas did with their DC-X but with a much lower success rate. Also their booster still sits on the ground.

  3. Not too impressed as it seems like nasa has arrived back where we were in 1968 with Apollo 8 but with no people – a bit more refined – but after 50+ years: a one shot rocket with an extremely expensive launch cost, and for the moment – a stunted service module, no lander and no space suits yet for the moon. The real action I’m waiting for (and so is nasa) is to see if spacex can get their starship working in a cheap, safe and reliable way – that will be a real game changer.

  4. SLS depresses me. It took so long to come to fruition. It’s decades behind Apollo tech. The capsule excluded, maybe – it can carry 4 people vs 3 and has fancy, yet unnecessary electronics. But that’s to no surprise, I think. America lacks the German engineers it had during the Apollo era. Someone visionary, energetic like Wernher von Braun, maybe.
    As an European, I always felt that way, at least.

    Or maybe it’s just because there’s no space race anymore? Does America need pressure to get moving?
    Apollo missions were quickly scrapped after moon landing.
    The whole world was sad about the cancelation, not just the USA (“ all mankind..”).

    And then the sad end for Skylab. Afaik, some ground technican almost got the rechargeable battery working again via remote control by repeatedly sending the activation command over radio. Or something along these lines. Very sad.

    Anyway, I’m merely from Europe. What do I know? It’s all politics, I suppose. I can only speculate, thus.

    But in my humble opinion, the SLS rocket technology is nothing to make a fuss about. I’m not alone with that opinion, I guess. It’s shameful to the whole western space travel society, not just the US. Any of the current Chinese or old Russian/Soviet rockets who had sent up space station modules are better/more capable by comparison or will be soon. Starship is better, too.
    Old Saturn V was, as well. I think those ancient cost savings measures of the US congress are very short-sighted.. Why not cut the budget for the military instead? We have enough wars already. We Europeans at our front door, even. Except if that hilarious SLS outcome was intended from the very start. Using 30-40 years old, used STS parts to build a fat, weak space cigar. Tss. Facepalm. 😔

      1. Just because it hasn’t bitten you in the butt, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. The advances in materials technologies have been massive and effect you every day, you are just unaware of it. Computer science (totally apart from the hardware it runs on) has made huge leaps. Biology, especially DNA-based technologies, have shot into the 21st century and have great momentum.

        Oh, an by the way, that “unnecessary” device in your hand that you enjoy sneering at because you don’t understand the first thing about it has lead to previously unimaginable leaps in economic progress. Artisans in rural India now sell their wares internationally through their phones. Nearly everyone does their banking on their phones these days, removing the need for branch banks almost entirely. Online learning is surging (just not in public schools). In many (perhaps most) industries it’s now possible to remotely repair things that used to require rolling a truck and a repair man. Most obvious of all: it *used* to cost real money to call your friend in another country — now it’s cheap.

        1. “Oh, an by the way, that “unnecessary” device in your hand that you enjoy sneering at because you don’t understand the first thing about it has [..] ”

          Bla bla bla. *sigh*
          I’m so tired of people thinking that way.

          I read many articles about the Apollo Guidance Computer.
          But did you, too ? That computer was a mastery piece of engineering!

          It had excellent software with a priority based concept, even by today’s standard.

          It saved the astronauts lifes when the radar was overloading the computer witg data. The GDC was still running, despite the many warning messages.

          The GDC had hand-woven core-memory immune against radiation. It was read-only, too. Nothing could erase the program by accident. The code wads manually checked for bugs, too.

          This “relic” is and was superior to your $50 smartphone any time. It was reliable.

          Saying that modern consumers technology is “better” suited than a hand-crafted piece of professional equipment says a lot to me.

          And no, I don’t admire modern technology. I use it daily, yes, but I’m not impressed. I can go back and use 30 years old technology any time, if I want.

          PS: Why do you think you are able to judge me, by the way? We don’t know each others. To me that’s arrogance and hubris. 🙄

      2. Addendum: the microchip killed Braun’s dreams of manned spaceflight with permanent habitats and stations in orbit. Once you were able to do all that with silicon instead of men, there was no point to doing it anymore. And once the silicon improves enough to replace men on Earth, they will probably go the same way.
        Imagine how ruthless our leaders will be once they don’t need us to keep the wheels turning anymore! Some naively think they’ll pay for us to pursue art all our lives. Ha! They’ll make sausage out of us first.

    1. This comment: “Americans can’t design rockets like Germans can.”
      Also this comment: “Other rockets are better or will be soon.” Um, ok. I guess it’s not a real bold claim to say that technology advances, it’s just kind of a tautology.
      Also this comment: “Starship is better, too.” Ok, so Americans funded by NASA can design better rockets than Americans at NASA? Fine, I guess, but contradicts point 1.
      Kind of all over the place here.

      1. I was trying to be diplomatic.
        The Starship and its foreign rivals are making progress very quickly.
        They can literally overshadow SLS as soon as next year.

        The SLS was obsolete before it even started.
        I’m reading news about it for almost 20 years. It’s so depressing. That’s not how to inspire young people’s phantasy for space travel and overcoming limits.
        SLS essentially a project that NASA is forced to get through, but doesn’t want to.
        It has nothing to do with progress.

        The SLS is less advanced than 60s technology.
        The parts recycled from STS were never meant to be used in such a way.
        The whole thing was a fixed idea.
        It apparently made sense in one moment of time in the 90s.
        But not near to the year 2030!

        And the capsule.. Oh please no. Don’t ask me. It has nice flat screens and an ugly nose. Stapled onto this “spaceship” with bolts from the hardware store? Yeah, great new materials. I hope they got a nice discount on dog food, while they went shopping there. Just kidding.

        Space travel in the earth orbit doesn’t need computers at all, even. A good mathematican with right formulas or an mechanical device can do it, too. Not very comfortable, but doable.

        It always surprises me how obsessed people of today are with those things. In the 70s/80s people still calculated satellite orbits on paper, with a calculator. The difference here is the consumption of fuel, the required orbital maneuvers.

        An Arduino could do that, if it ran the software of the Apollo AGC. Not as reliable of course, because of the lack hardware-based interrupt/priority handling and the use of flash memory. But it would work.

        1. Wernher von Braun had been building rockets since the 1930s. By the time Armstrong walked on the moon, von Braun had been buildiong rockets for something like thirty years.

          It takes time. Musk has been building rockets with SpaceX since 2002. That’s twenty years. It looks to me like they’re pretty much on the same time line. The difference being that SpaceX is doing it commercially and with a view to the future rather than as a one-off.

          SpaceX isn’t building just rockets. They are building an industry and the know-how to run that industry. Sort of like if America Airlines had not only built passenger flight service, but also a factory to build their own airplanes – from rubber tires to jet engines.

      2. “This comment: “Americans can’t design rockets like Germans can.” [..]”

        It wasn’t meant *that* way. 😟
        I was referring to the time when both USA and USSR had, um, employed ex-German rocket engineers for their space programme.

        Also, by the 60s, von Braun wasn’t a “German” per see anymore.
        Not even to the people in old Germany.
        Sidw by side with Kennedy, he had become American by the time pretty much.

        However, he still had retained that German attitude of being very precise and dutiful in his profession.
        All his ideas were scientifically proven, not just phantasy.

        Personally, what I think (in my humble opinion) the USA is lacking in our time is a new goal.
        Something to aim for. Like space exploration.
        Which other field used to have heros and idols so peaceful and inspiring?

        Money and economy are just temporary. They rise and fall.

        Values and knowledge are things that can last for generations to come.

        IMHO, thinking that these enternal things are naive, but having money on the mind all the time is not, well that’s just.. paradoxically.

        To me, money more or less is the solution to a problem we wouldn’t have without money. It’s a self-powering mechanism without purpose. 😔

    2. Nothing advances technology like war. The Germans were ahead of the world in technology because of the drive to win wars. The US surged ahead of Russia with Apollo because of the fear of Russians using space technology for war. Humans are at their “best” when engaging in war because we’re inherently apex competitors to survive.

  5. I’ve read that to save money, they’ve decided to reuse the black boxes from one mission to the next. which is fine…but it takes 2 years to move the boxes from one rocket to the next.

    how many launches will space-X get in that 2 year window?

    1. That makes no sense. A black box can’t be worth two years of idleness for a whole program. And there’s no way it takes two years to clear one’s memory and jam it back in the rocket. Surely not? Then again it’s government work

      1. as far as I have been able to determine, the black boxes were not designed to be reused. so they have to do basically a complete rebuild, and I’m not sure how this is saving any money…they might not factor in labor costs? maybe they’re spreading the rebuild out over multiple budget years?

        yeah, definitely government math going on here.

    2. They absolutely wouldn’t bother refurbishing hardware unless it was not critical path (so why not), or was orders of magnitude cheaper (which is budget driven, by the people). I also can’t see it being true, it’s almost never cheaper or quicker to refurb something.

  6. According to wikipedia, “These space missions will increase in complexity and are scheduled to occur at intervals of a year or more.” That is not a recipe for a successful lunar exploration program. Imagine you’re got some humans on the moon and they need rescue or some critical supplies and all you can say is, “we’ll have that right out for you on the launch next year!”

    Imagine if the American West had been settled at the rate of ONE wagon train per YEAR.

    NASA is great at exploration and space science, but it was never intended to be a transportation company and it sucks at it.

    1. “Imagine you’re got some humans on the moon and they need rescue or some critical supplies and all you can say is, “we’ll have that right out for you on the launch next year!””

      If humans on the Moon need something critical from Earth, they’re dead. In space if you absolutely need something, it means you’ve got minutes-to-hours. Not days or weeks. Everything else you deal with via redundancy and oversupply.

      In addition, it’s not about building *longer* stays on the Moon. It’s about building *affordable* trips to the Moon. Cheap cargo flights. Already in place infrastructure. NASA isn’t trying to friggin’ settle the Moon.

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