"60 Minutes" has just had an article about the Artemis project's technical difficulties:


American astronauts aren’t heading back to the moon just yet. NASA’s pricey Artemis mission is facing technical challenges. The space agency is now working with both SpaceX and Blue Origin.

The main problem with the Artemis programme is that the US Congress has NOT given it the additional funding it needed when it was needed despite repeated requests by the NASA administrator.
 
Congress has long had different priorities when it comes to space funding. NASA hasn't been important enough to provide either good leadership or sufficient funding since before Apollo 11 landed.
 
Congress has long had different priorities when it comes to space funding.

The problem with Congress when it comes to programmes such as the Artemis programme they want to have their fiscal cake AND eat it. NASA's annual federal funding (Last time I checked) is less than 0.5c in the dollar. The US federal government can easily afford to double that amount for NASA, just look at the annual funding bill for the US DOD for example. If NASA had got the extra $20 billion each year for several years starting in ~2016 the Artemis programme would be in a much better position, there'd almost certainly been one Moon-landing by now.

On another from Phillip Loss concerning SLS first-stage production:


The SLS Core Stage is one of the biggest watch items for NASA Artemis missions, literally and figuratively. Delivery of the stage to the Kennedy Space Center Artemis launch site, is usually a good indication that launch preparations are close to getting underway.
For the first three missions, Artemis I, II, and III, the stage is at the center of the vehicle, conducting launch and insertion into low Earth orbit. I wanted to run through some of the hardware pieces and some of the milestones that can be general indicators about overall progress or the status of a build, but there's a lot to cover.
The Core Stage is the most complicated and youngest piece of SLS, so I have split this overview into two parts. In this first video, I'll try to add some context to how the stage fits into the vehicle design, how the stage diverges from its Shuttle heritage, and how its big orange pieces obscure the fact that the Core Stage has as much in common with its Shuttle orbiter counterparts as it does with the External Tank.
Imagery is courtesy of NASA, except where noted.
00:44 Where does the Core Stage fit in the SLS Program?
02:39 Core Stage overview
03:53 How the Core Stage is part Shuttle orbiter
09:31 Same Shuttle engines, new SLS stage
11:06 Core Stage computers and networking
12:20 Overview of production at Michoud Assembly Facility
14:48 Main structural elements and structural assembly tools
17:49 Overview of production sequence and priorities
18:51 An aside about assembly and test contracts for development and production
20:14 Thanks for watching, next time we'll go into the details!
 
I just stumbled across this CBS San Diego news-clip concerning the Artemis II crew:


NASA's Artemis II is running tests leading up to its journey around the moon. After the mission, astronauts will be returning to earth in the Orion capsule and splashing down off our coast.
Naval Base San Diego will be helping to retrieve the four astronauts and capsule after returning to earth from their 10-day mission. Commander Reid Wiseman, Pilot Victor Glover, Mission Specialist Christina Koch, and Mission Specialist Jeremy Hansen will be on board.
"We're excited to be the first crew in over fifty years to go out to the moon and back," Wiseman said.
The mission will mark the first time we will see a woman and a black astronaut step foot on the moon
 
The problem with Congress when it comes to programmes such as the Artemis programme they want to have their fiscal cake AND eat it. NASA's annual federal funding (Last time I checked) is less than 0.5c in the dollar. The US federal government can easily afford to double that amount for NASA, just look at the annual funding bill for the US DOD for example. If NASA had got the extra $20 billion each year for several years starting in ~2016 the Artemis programme would be in a much better position, there'd almost certainly been one Moon-landing by now.
I don't disagree that Congress could easily double NASA's budget, triple it, or more. My position is that Congress sees NASA as trivial enough that they needn't spend more than a pittance on the agency, which is borne out by events. Every time something has come up that might have required larger outlays - space solar power, O'Neill colonies, orbital manufacturing, what have you, the government has shied away. Several White House administrations have proposed ambitious plans (which is the executive's job after all), but after JFK and LBJ, none has expended political capital to really push them through, and the few members of Congress that care treat NASA as a piggy bank to fund their states. If they had a goal outside of 'disburse money to favored corporations so they'll finance our reelection campaigns and employ our constituents,' the funding profile for the SLS would have looked substantially different, and it may never have been selected at all (RAC-2 was favored by the review committee in the 2000s). But if wishes were horses - well, you know the rhyme. I expect very little actual progress out of NASA's manned programs, especially where they have people in Congress putting their thumbs on the scales. No doubt Artemis will plod along for a while, but outside of R&D (which NASA is doing quite well), I expect most progress to come from the military and the private sector.
 
RAC-2 was the second of three options MSFC looked at before what became the SLS was authorized. RAC-1 looked at vehicles very much like what the SLS is today, RAC-2 examined large diameter hydrocarbon boosters à la the Saturn V, and RAC-3 ran the gamut of EELV options and tank diameters. A little more about RAC-2 can be found here: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20120013881
 
Phillip sloss has posted another Artemis video this time dealing with the FY2024 budget:


A few pictures of Artemis II SRB segments going into storage until stacking and the latest RS-25 Retrofit 3b test are covered in this short update, but budgets and the big picture are a focus in March for NASA Artemis.
The NASA budget for the current fiscal year, FY 2024, was finally enacted on the eve of the release of the FY 2025 President's Budget Request (PBR). How much money the programs get -- or don't get -- can have a big effect on the schedules for Artemis missions and the progress towards flying them, and this shorter video takes a look at who got what.
NASA's Exploration directorate got less money than requested in FY 2024, with Congress cutting the budget for the programs that are building critical elements for Artemis IV and beyond. The cuts made room even within the lower funding ceiling to fully fund the programs that are involved in Artemis II and III.
Imagery is courtesy of NASA, except where noted.
01:21 FY 2024 budget passed, future Artemis cut
04:47 Artemis II SRB segments headed to RPSF Surge 2 storage
05:22 RS-25 Retrofit 3b test #9
06:10 FY 2025 budget request up next, March 11
06:40 Thanks for watching!
 
Phillip Sloss has just posted part 2:


For the first three NASA Artemis missions, Artemis I, II, and III, the SLS Core Stage is at the center of the vehicle, conducting launch and insertion into low Earth orbit. I wanted to run through some of the hardware pieces and some of the milestones that can be general indicators about overall progress or the status of a build, but there's a lot to cover, so I split this overview into two parts.
In the first video, I tried to add some context to how the stage fits into the vehicle design, how the stage diverges from its Shuttle heritage, and how its big orange pieces obscure the fact that the Core Stage has as much in common with its Shuttle orbiter counterparts as it does with the External Tank.
Building on that, this second video goes into the production of the five major elements of the Core Stage, in more or less the order of complexity. That begins with the three dry sections that fit around the large liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid hydrogen (LH2) propellant tanks, the engine section, the intertank, and the forward skirt. After an overview of production of the LOX and LH2 tanks, the major joins of the different elements and final assembly are covered.
Imagery is courtesy of NASA, except where noted.
01:27 Engine section production overview
11:17 Intertank production overview
15:23 Forward skirt production overview
17:23 LOX tank production overview
23:28 LH2 tank production overview
26:06 Major joints / final assembly overview
34:39 Thanks for watching!
 
Phillip Sloss has put out another video concerning budget cuts that the NASA budget and the pressure it's putting on the Artemis programme as SpaceX's Starship test outcomes keep improving with each test flight:


Budgets and the big picture are still in focus for NASA Artemis in another budget-y news update. The third flight test of SpaceX's Starship was the big technical news, but the Fiscal Year 2025 President's Budget Request started the week with less money for NASA. The cap on federal spending delayed future Artemis missions and less money was requested for NASA's Exploration directorate. Other directorates fared worse than Exploration and other agencies fared worse than NASA, but the lower ceilings and slowdown in funding could also delay the next Artemis missions in the present.
Starship reached orbit insertion on its flight test, which is a great achievement; but the Artemis HLS schedule could be even more ambitious. We will find out in the next two years whether the rapid progression of Starship development can keep up with the rapidly approaching Artemis III milestone dates for September 2026.
NASA's agency baseline commitments for the Starship HLS and Gateway initial capabilities are less optimistic, forecasting more or less 2028 dates for both.
Imagery is courtesy of NASA, except where noted.
01:04 HLS and Gateway initial baseline schedules finally published
03:18 Starship reaches orbit insertion on third flight test, can it fly a crewed lunar lander in two years?
08:30 NASA anticipating more budget cuts in FY 2025, delaying Artemis missions long term
11:49 SLS Block 1B baseline schedule commitment also released
12:28 A few other news items to wrap up
13:15 Thanks for watching!

Now is not the time to cut money from NASA's budget and GOP hijinks by certain congressmen in the House aren't helping.
 
The question is: important to whom? While the space-happy crowd might like that, I don’t think NASA or Congress have sold Artemis very well to the general public, certainly not for anything that might actually benefit the public aside from prestige.
 
Phillip Sloss has put out another video concerning budget cuts that the NASA budget and the pressure it's putting on the Artemis programme as SpaceX's Starship test outcomes keep improving with each test flight:














Now is not the time to cut money from NASA's budget and GOP hijinks by certain congressmen in the House aren't helping.
Gotta pay for all those illegal aliens. Money has to come from somewhere. And let's not forget those Ukrainian pensions.
 
What would the financial penalties be if the Congress block further funding to NASA and all that NASA can do is to perhaps cancel or delay other programs that are not as important than SLS/Artemis.
 
I gotta say, even though the Chinese don't take American attempts to start a race seriously, the likelihood of China reaching the Moon first increases day by day.
 
Phillip Sloss has just posted another Artemis update:


A short update on the NASA Artemis Moon to Mars programs to report this time, mainly revolving around another RS-25 development engine hot-fire test.
The tenth test in the Retrofit 3b series of 12 occurred at NASA Stennis Space Center on March 22, with a more typical duration of 500 seconds. Engine 0525 is retrofitted engine being used in this last certification test firing series for production restart of the RS-25 for future launches of SLS. The first flight engines to be delivered will eventually serve on Artemis V, which is now projected for launch no earlier than mid-2030.
Aside from that there was a little SLS-related imagery published by NASA Public Affairs related to the future launches on the Block 1B upgrade being prepared for Artemis IV. A group photo of launch vehicle adapters provided a first look at some Artemis III hardware in a few years.
Imagery is courtesy of NASA, except where noted.
01:08 Test number 10 in the RS-25 Retrofit 3b series completed on March 22
08:22 Overview of "non-emergency safe abort" procedure for single engine RS-25 ground tests
10:24 A couple of news and notes items
12:16 Teddy joins me in saying "Thanks for watching!"
 
Phillip Sloss has just uploaded a rather long video for the second quarter, 2024 update concerning Artemis II, III, and IV status:


This video updates the current public status of NASA Artemis II, III, IV production at the beginning of the 2nd quarter of 2024, building off of the recent production overview videos already on the channel. The update goes over the status of Exploration Ground Systems, Orion, and Space Launch System programs as they work complete upgrades and resolve issues before Artemis II. The public information about production of hardware and programmatic status for the Artemis III lunar landing mission is reviewed, along with the current status of developments for the Artemis IV Gateway assembly and lunar landing mission near the end of the decade.
Imagery is courtesy of NASA, except where noted.
00:00 Intro
01:30 Artemis II EGS status
04:17 Artemis II Orion status
09:42 Artemis II SLS status
15:04 Artemis III intro, 5-year anniversary of 2024 deadline
19:55 Artemis III EGS status
20:24 Artemis III Orion status
25:00 Artemis III SLS status
37:45 Artemis IV intro, overview of new elements
39:31 Gateway initial capability status
42:05 Artemis IV EGS status
44:31 Artemis IV Orion status
46:44 Artemis IV SLS status
51:05 Teddy once again joins me in saying "Thanks for watching!"

 
NASA presented the Lunar Terrain Vehicle for Artemis
under contract to three companies:

Intuitive Machine Moon Racer (with subcontractor Boeing, Michelin, Northrop-Grumman)
Lunar Outpost Lunar Dawn (with Subcontractors Lockheed-Martin, General Motor, Northrop-Grumman, Goodyear, MDA)
Venturi & Astrolab FLEX (with Subcontractors Axiom Space, Odyssey Space Research)

The winner has to do: development, build and bring the LTV to Moon !
LTV not only transport Astronauts during Artemis missions,
it also has to work as unmanned rover up to 10 years on Lunar surface !
 

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first reaction from Internet...
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NASA has just put out a short video about Artemis's new Moon rover:


NASA hosted a news conference from the Johnson Space Center in Houston April 3, 2024, to announce the companies selected to move forward in the development of the Lunar Terrain Vehicle under the LTVS (Lunar Terrain Vehicle Services) contract. The award leverages NASA’s expertise in developing and operating these next generation "Moon buggies" to build commercial capabilities that support scientific discovery and long-term human exploration on the Moon. NASA intends to begin using the LTV for crewed operations during the Artemis V mission on the surface of the Moon.
 
Nice. It appears that the rover has changed design wise since the version that was doing the rounds back in the early 2000s.
 
Phillip Sloss has uploaded another video update including the status of Artemis II's Orion CSM and the Moon rover:


The Orion spacecraft for NASA's Artemis II mission is on the move in this news update video, with Lockheed Martin getting ready for altitude chamber testing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The last certification hot-fire static test of an RS-25 development engine was completed the same week, and now the SLS program and Aerojet Rocketdyne/L3 Harris are building flight engines for Artemis V and beyond. The agency also announced the selection of three Lunar Terrain Vehicle proposals for feasibility study work in hopes that an unpressurized rover will be on the lunar surface when the Artemis V crew lands there next decade.
Imagery is courtesy of NASA, except where noted.
00:00 Intro
01:13 Artemis II Orion moves from FAST cell to altitude chamber for testing
07:13 RS-25 Retrofit 3b testing concludes, certification test-firings complete
15:03 LTV feasibility study awards announced
17:18 Thanks for watching!

 
Not that it would ever do so—but if the first SLS had burned to depletion, could it have put itself and a 70 ton payload both in orbit—beating Starship Mk I?
 
The Phillip Sloss has just uploaded a new video annotated video to do with the launch of Artemis I:


I know this is yet another Artemis 1 launch video, but I'm going to throw my FOMO version into the pile, anyway, and we'll see if there's any interest in a little narration. In this derivative video, I go through a small set of replays of the Artemis I launch sequence as seen from TV cameras on the zero-level or the deck of the Mobile Launcher.
The idea is to point out a few of the details that can be seen of the aft end of the Artemis I Space Launch System vehicle sitting on the Exploration Ground Systems Mobile Launcher in the final seconds before and the first few seconds after its historical first liftoff from Kennedy Space Center.
The source video was released by NASA EGS in early 2023 after the Artemis I launch a few months earlier. A landing page for the raw video of these "ML deck" cameras, with links to different levels of resolution can be found here:
Obviously in this case, the imagery is courtesy of NASA.
01:53 OTV camera 805 notes
05:05 OTV camera 806 notes
08:00 OTV camera 807 notes
10:56 OTV camera 808 notes,
11:46 contrasting OTV 808 perspective with one from OTV 813
13:04 0-V5 camera notes
14:05 OTV camera 810 notes

16:11 Thanks for watching!
 
The first non-American person to walk on the Moon will be a Japanese astronaut, Nasa has announced.

The US space agency said on Wednesday that it would partner with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for its upcoming crewed mission to the lunar surface as part of its Artemis program.

The collaboration will see JAXA design and develop a pressurised moon rover, as well as two opportunities for Japanese astronauts to travel on the lunar surface.
 
Roscosmos no doubt was secretly hoping that the first non-American to walk on the Moon was a cosmonaut (No doubt Putin's Ukrainian adventure derailed that idea).
The attempts to include roscosmos in the gateway/artemis were quite half-hearted before 2022, nobody quite believed in it. Even if it had worked out, a single airlock (what was discussed back then) wouldn't have given them the first non-american seat.

There is an interesting thing that isn't talked enough.
Kamala harris said the first japanese moon walker would be "in the late 2020s", and the japanese press has quoted officials saying the launch dates that are being considered start in 2028: Artemis IV.

This of course, is so that the first Japanese moon walker happens before the first chinese moon walker, currently expected for 2029 in CMSA's plans. This is what matters, and the context of this announcement was this Japan-USA summit reaffirming strategic and defence ties and condemning china.

If the current planning holds, then there won't be a problem, Artemis III in late 2026/2027, Artemis IV in 2028 with an American, a Japanese moonwalker, and an European (as previously agreed) and likely another American on the gateway.

But if Artemis III is delayed by more than a year (considering Artemis II was just delayed by a year, it's not unlikely at all) ... or if Artemis III's moon landing is dropped due to delays to HLS or the Spacesuit, and the first landing is well into 2028, with the chinese on track to their plans. Then there will be a conflict between the American Return to the Moon and the agreement to land the first japanese on the moon as the first non-American, which will be solved either by

-Qualifying HLS to land 3 crew on its first crewed launch, something which may be hard if it's Artemis 3 and therefore SX HLS option A, and something which would screw over early gateway operations if it's Artemis 4.
-Not honouring the agreement.
-Accepting that the first moonwalkers in almost 60 years will be an American (woman) and a Japanese astronaut.

More generally, with currently 9 (2 canadian, 1 emirati, 2+1 japanese, 3 european) orion seats given to non-NASA astronauts, with probably more in the future (for future ESM, for India...), and if this trend of Washington using orion seats as foreign policy bargaining chips continue, then, with Orions only being able to carry 4 astronauts per year to the moon, NASA will end up having a lot more limited opportunities to fly their own astronauts to the gateway and moon, on their own spacecraft (especially compared to Apollo, and probably compared to the chinese)...

And IMO, this is what's going to make NASA ask the industry (HLS contractors first of all) to seriously look into Orion-SLS replacements...
 
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View: https://twitter.com/roughridersshow/status/1778846539885985810


NASA Teams today at LC-39B continue to test the Crew Escape Egress system ahead of Artemis II to safely get the Crew away from the pad in the event of an emergency. This video is in real time and unclear if this was a full speed test. @NASASpaceflight nsf.live/spacecoast

and another test just happened. This one looked a lot faster. Maybe full speed?
 
I'm surprised that this doesn't seem to have already popped up in this thread. An honest to God Lunar Railway:


 
I wonder if zip-lines might be less labor intensive. No bunny hops. Towers far above the dusty regolith.

They seem to work for ski resorts.
 
Phillip Sloss has put out another SLS video with this one to do with Artemis II and the last ICPS:


With most eyes in America on the total solar eclipse on April 8th, it was a fairly quiet week for Artemis news.
The last United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy launched on April 9th, marking the end of the Delta launch program, but not quite the last Delta hardware to fly. The Space Launch System has two more modified Delta upper stages in storage for Artemis II and III, but only two and then that's the end of this initial version of SLS and Artemis will have to wait for the Block 1B upgrade and infrastructure to be completed.
More pictures of the Artemis II Orion spacecraft move into the altitude chamber for testing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida were released, along with another shot of SLS stage adapters at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama waiting to be called for Artemis II and III.
The agency also announced the formal agreement with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency for JAXA to provide a pressurized lunar rover early in the 2030s. As another part of the agreement, two Japanese astronauts will be selected for future Artemis crews, with one of them landing on the Moon.
Imagery is courtesy of NASA, except where noted.
01:58 JAXA lunar rover for Artemis in the 2030s
03:00 More Artemis II Orion altitude chamber install pics
09:30 Last Delta IV flies, leaving only ICPS units for Artemis II and III SLS
13:27 Long Artemis road ahead resembles long history of ISS assembly
16:09 Thanks for watching!

NASA uploaded this video recently dealing with the loading of the Artemis II CSM (And its' ICPS mating adaptor) into the vacuum chamber for several tests:


On April 4, 2024, a team lifts the Artemis II Orion spacecraft into a vacuum chamber inside the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it will undergo electromagnetic compatibility and interference testing.
 
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Video and images of the newest iteration of Toyota's Lunar Cruiser.


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkJv3ciCf3M

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58k4oAiHMcI



001.jpg 002.jpg
 
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