Celebrating Our Artemis Naming Anniversary

This week marks one year since I named America’s 21st-century lunar exploration program Artemis after the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon. As we fast-tracked our goal of landing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, and establishing a sustainable lunar presence later this decade, NASA and our partners have made incredible progress.

The Artemis program represents a new era where robots and humans will work together to push the boundaries of what’s possible in space exploration. Our return to the Moon includes taking all of America with us. We graduated a diverse new class of astronauts in January and just closed our latest call for future Artemis Generation explorers, receiving more than 12,000 astronaut candidate applications.

We are also prioritizing private industry innovation to enhance our ability to return to the Moon. We’re working with American companies on everything from delivering exciting new science investigations and technology experiments like the Volatiles Investigating Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the surface of the Moon with our Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative to developing the Gateway to designing modern human landing systems (HLS), one of which will take NASA astronauts to the lunar surface in 2024.

The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, the world’s most powerful rocket, has made fantastic progress toward launch on the uncrewed Artemis I mission. Engineers integrated all four RS-25 engines into the rocket and completed assembly of the massive core stage. Currently, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, we are preparing to conduct the critical Green Run test on SLS later this year. We have fully assembled and tested our Orion spacecraft for Artemis I too. We have successfully demonstrated the spacecraft’s launch abort system, performed extreme environment testing, and sent Orion to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for future integration with SLS and launch.

The foundation of the Gateway – including the power and propulsion element as well at the habitation and logistics outpost or HALO – are currently under development and will now be integrated on Earth for a single launch in 2023. We are also working with international partners at CSA, ESA, Roscosmos, and JAXA on other key elements for sustainable missions at the lunar outpost.

Working with industry on HLS is notable as this is the first time since the Apollo era that the agency has directly had funding for human lunar landers. This exciting final step in our acquisition process puts all the pieces in play needed to explore the Moon quickly and sustainably.

Inspiring future generations to help us confront the challenges of human space exploration is vital to the success of Artemis and all of NASA’s future. These are just a few highlights of our year – and I’m proud that NASA is on track for sustainable human exploration of the Moon for the first time in history because of the herculean effort of our team. The momentum we have amassed will help us overcome the logistical and technical changes ahead. I have full confidence that year two of the Artemis program will be just as productive as our first.

Ad astra,
Jim

 

Why our Launch of the NASA and SpaceX Demo-2 Mission to the International Space Station is Essential

On April 17, NASA and SpaceX announced that the upcoming flight test of the new Crew Dragon spacecraft with our astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley is now scheduled for lift off no earlier than 4:32 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 27. The launch of the Demo-2 mission will take place from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Have no doubt about it: I am looking forward to the launch. It will be historic and momentous. It also is critically important.

The Crew Dragon’s destination is the International Space Station. For almost 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. This unique laboratory in space has hosted more than 2,800 research investigations from scientists spanning 108 countries and areas, enabling us to prepare to land the first woman and next man on the Moon under the Artemis program and prepare for the human exploration of Mars. As a global endeavor, 239 people from 19 countries have visited the space station.

The station’s design requires humans living aboard to maintain it, operate it, and upgrade it; thus, International Space Station operations, including commercial resupply and commercial crew, are essential to the mission. A full crew is vital to safely maintain the station, both internally and externally, and continue the important research work that enables us to move human exploration farther into our solar system. To maximize our use of the station with the science we can conduct, we need four crew members operating in the U.S. segment of the station. When we have achieved that, we’ve been able to exceed 100 hours of research time in a week. Certification of the spaceflight systems of our Commercial Crew providers Boeing and SpaceX is critical to our ability to sustain a full crew and maximize our use of this singular national and global resource.

We currently are supporting the station with the bare minimum – only one NASA astronaut is aboard for Expedition 63, Chris Cassidy. As a result, we have extended the planned length of the Demo-2 mission from a standard test flight to ensure Behnken and Hurley can participate as Expedition 63 crew members to safely maintain and operate the station. Among the work that will await their arrival is upgrading the space station’s power system with new batteries due to arrive in May aboard the H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) cargo spacecraft launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Without the presence of Behnken and Hurley, we otherwise would likely defer such an operation until additional NASA crew members are available.

As the final flight test for SpaceX, the Demo-2 mission will validate the company’s crew transportation system, including the launch pad, rocket, spacecraft, and operational capabilities. This also will be the first time NASA astronauts will test the spacecraft systems in orbit. Certifying the Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 for the operational rotation of space station crew members is critical to our continued and ongoing use of this invaluable asset that is important not only to the United States but also to our international partners across the globe.

NASA is committed to fulfilling its obligations to the station’s international partners as we work to return human spaceflight capability to American soil. Our commercial crew providers are in the final stages of development and testing of new human space transportation systems. To ensure the agency keeps its commitment for safe operations via a continuous U.S. presence aboard the International Space Station until these new capabilities are routinely available, NASA is in negotiations with the State Space Corporation Roscosmos to purchase one additional Soyuz seat for a launch this fall. NASA’s contract with Roscosmos will meet the recommendations of several advisory committees including the GAO, NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel and the NASA Office of the Inspector General.

As the workforce personnel essential to supporting this launch and the Demo-2 mission and the International Space Station operations continue to work, I want to assure you we are taking the necessary steps to protect and care for the NASA and SpaceX teams. NASA is closely adhering to the CDC’s recommendations on infection control for the coronavirus. Behnken and Hurley will be quarantined for two weeks prior to their launch, and we are conducting our Demo-2 preview briefings today with all media participating remotely. The safety of our workforce is our top priority. We will not ask employees and contractors to perform work if we do not have the highest confidence that it is safe to do so.

We of course wish circumstances would allow us to open the gates at Kennedy Space Center to those who want to be there on launch day – nevertheless, we are working to enable the world to join us virtually for this incredible moment and essential mission.

Coping with Isolation: Tips from the Pros

A month ago, the NASA leadership team and I decided to move the entire agency to mandatory telework and take extra measures to protect NASA employees from the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Whether you are teleworking or working on-site to continue NASA’s vital missions, we understand these uncertain times have had a significant impact on everyone’s lives. As we all do our best to follow CDC guidelines and practice social distancing to help protect ourselves and others from COVID-19, I know that many are still learning to cope with social distancing.

Living in isolation is a concept with which NASA psychologists and astronauts are extremely familiar. For 60 years, NASA astronauts have been in space sometimes for months at a time, in small cohorts, with limited contact with their loved ones on Earth. Astronauts can provide excellent guidance for all of us as we navigate life during these times of social isolation.

Expert Tips

NASA astronauts have shared some specific advice about their training and the concept of expeditionary skills.

  • Anne McClain shared NASA’s five key expeditionary skills and examples of how to practice them in daily life.
  • Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan made videos from the International Space Station sharing their tips, like following a schedule and taking good care of yourself and your health.
  • Morgan says it’s important to think about how your actions affect the actions of others.
  • Meir talks about the importance of finding the silver linings.
  • Christina Koch, who spent 11 months in space, suggests thinking of how you can brighten someone else’s day.

Even former astronauts are sharing tips, like Peggy Whitson, who helped create the curriculum we use to train astronauts on social isolation, wanted to remind folks that even though we might be in a small space right now, we are part of something bigger.

Overcoming the Challenges of Isolation

NASA has been spotlighting resources from our Human Research Program’s Social Isolation in Space page. We have also been adding social isolation-themed content on NASA.gov/coronavirus.

Here are some of my favorite features so far:

Remember, we are in this together, so continue to check in with members of your team, and don’t hesitate to ask for what you need.

Ad Astra,
Jim

 

Apollo 13 Reminds Us of Hard Things Worth Doing

American history shows we are capable of ingenuity, devotion and great courage.

By Jim Lovell and Jim Bridenstine

As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, Americans can take comfort in our history of facing difficult times with courage and emerging stronger on the other side of struggle. The Apollo 13 mission, launched 50 years ago Saturday, reminds us of Americans’ characteristic resilience and ingenuity.

On April 11, 1970, Apollo 13 lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was supposed to be the third mission to land men on the moon, after Apollo 11 and 12 the previous year. Thirteen was no less daring than its predecessors, but the launch wasn’t front-page news. By 1970, space travel was no longer a novelty and few Americans tuned in for the launch. At that time, no one could have imagined that the mission would become one of the most harrowing odysseys in American history.

When things went wrong on the Apollo 13 mission, it captured the world’s attention. News of the oxygen-tank explosion and crippled service module jolted the public awake to the drama unfolding 200,000 miles from Earth. Americans were reminded that space exploration is high-risk work demanding exceptional technical competence and bravery.

Fortunately, the flight engineers at Mission Control in Houston and the astronauts hurtling toward the moon understood the complex dangers space holds. The rescue mission wasn’t solely the product of improvisation, but of an innovative and cooperative workforce ready to take on any challenge.

For four vexing days, the Apollo 13 flight crew endured bitter conditions. The astronauts powered down all nonessential systems, which caused cabin temperatures to drop near freezing. Some food became inedible. Drinking water was rationed to ensure the cramped lunar module would operate longer than planned. The ground crew worked for 87 hours straight to come up with possible solutions. At one point, the crew flew through space with only the sun as a guide, a reminder of the original meaning of “astronaut,” which is derived from the Greek for “star” and “sailor.”

Benefiting from extensive planning and rigorous training and testing, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration overcame the obstacles of insufficient oxygen, water and power. Apollo 13 splashed down in the South Pacific, its lunar module ingeniously repurposed as a lifeboat. No one familiar with the perils of the mission can look at duct tape, plastic bags and cardboard the same ever again.

On this golden anniversary of NASA’s most successful failure, the nation honors the physical and intellectual courage of the astronauts, as well as the diligence and ingenuity of the ground crew that kept Americans alive aboard a crippled spacecraft hundreds of thousands of miles from home. Apollo 13 revealed more than technical talent. It reminded the world of America’s frontier spirit. In the face of seemingly impossible odds, Americans didn’t let fear paralyze us. Instead we joined together, working calmly and efficiently to find a solution.

America has an ambitious future in space exploration. NASA’s Artemis program is working to land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024, which in turn will help prepare for humanity’s next giant leap to Mars. Artemis will require state-of-the-art technology and push the boundaries of human knowledge like never before. It will also demand the same courage, ingenuity and devotion Americans showed in Apollo 13. We, as a nation, must continue to do hard things. That’s how we soar into the heavens and progress as a civilization.

Bring Your Ideas to NASA@WORK

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard from employees across the agency who want to help the nation through this unprecedented time. These comments exemplify the prevailing, can-do spirit of NASA people and our willingness to take on any challenge.

As the nation comes together to confront this crisis, we must look at every opportunity for NASA to lend a hand and increase our contribution to America’s response. We have unique capabilities—several of which are already being used to help combat COVID-19. We also have talented people and decades of experience finding solutions to complex problems.

NASA will continue to support the Administration and local response efforts by our field centers. Starting today, we’re also asking the NASA workforce for ideas of how the agency can leverage its expertise and capabilities to provide additional support. Using our internal crowdsourcing platform NASA@WORK, you can submit ideas for solutions relevant to COVID-19. Multiple ideas may be selected for follow-up and potential action.

For this initial call, NASA leadership, working with the White House and other government agencies, determined three focus areas around personal protective equipment, ventilation devices, and monitoring and forecasting the spread and impacts of the virus. Other creative ideas are welcome, and as COVID-19 evolves, we may introduce additional topic areas to address the needs of the country.

You can find more information about the NASA@WORK opportunity below and online. I encourage anyone with an idea to submit it within the next two weeks, as it could propel meaningful contributions to the COVID-19 response.

Thank you all in advance for bringing your ingenuity to the table and helping with something so important. And thank you to the Space Technology Mission Directorate for spearheading this effort on behalf of the agency and for the benefit of the nation.

Ad astra,
Jim

 

March 24 Update on NASA Response to Coronavirus

Dear NASA family,

Our nation is fighting an invisible enemy – coronavirus (COVID-19). NASA is implementing important measures across the agency to do our part to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 and protect our communities. To continue NASA’s inspiring mission, the safety of our workforce is our top priority. We will not ask employees and contractors to perform work if we do not have the highest confidence that it is safe to do so. 

Mission-Essential Work

Last week, NASA leadership completed the first agencywide assessment of what work can be performed remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work that must be performed on-site, and on-site work that will be paused. You can find the release here.

We are working closely with center directors, contractors and our partners to analyze this evolving situation to ensure we are taking the right steps for our workforce.

What We Can Do

Each of us has the important responsibility of taking extra precautions to protect ourselves and our team.  If you are performing on-site work and feel sick, do not go to work. Contact your supervisor immediately and schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.

For more than six decades, NASA has used its expertise to take on challenges that have benefited people worldwide in unexpected ways. Leadership across the agency is looking at how we can use our unmatched expertise and capabilities to help in the national response to COVID-19. We are coordinating an agencywide effort to see how NASA can help and we will be providing more details in the days to come.   

Changes at Centers

Following local, state and federal guidance, and taking into account local conditions, we have moved the following centers and facilities to Stage 4 of NASA’s Response Framework:

  • Glenn Research Center in Ohio
  • Plum Brook Station in Ohio
  • Armstrong Flight Research Center in California
  • Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia
  • Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York
  • Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, who also reported its first case of an employee testing positive for COVID-19.

Two facilities will remain at Stage 4 after reporting new coronavirus cases, Michoud Assembly Facility reporting its first employee testing positive for COVID-19, and Stennis Space Center recording a second case of a member of the NASA family with the virus. Kennedy Space Center will remain at stage 3, one member of the workforce that has tested positive but given our mandatory telework policy the individual had not been on site for over a week prior to symptoms. For an updated list of the status of each of NASA’s facilities visit NASA People.

At Stage 4, mandatory telework is in effect for all personnel, with the exception of limited personnel required for mission-essential work and to maintain the safety and security of the center.

NASA leadership continues to monitor developments around the nation and follow the guidance from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local and state health officials in order to keep the NASA community safe. If at any point, as was demonstrated many times last week, we do not feel comfortable with the work conditions, we will not hesitate to temporarily suspend work. Mission-essential work is routinely reevaluated to determine if there is not another way to safely complete the work.

Ask the Administrator

This week, I will be joined by Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk and Chief Health and Medical Officer Dr. J.D. Polk to answer your questions on NASA’s response to COVID-19 during a recorded Q&A. We’ve collected your submitted questions for the “March 25 Ask the Administrator” event, and you’ll get an email Wednesday, March 25, letting you know when the video is available and where to watch it.

Your resilience and determination to continue the mission during this unprecedented challenge is worthy of our nation’s gratitude. I am grateful to be a part of this tremendous team as we navigate this difficult time together.

Ad astra,
Jim

  

Helpful Links:

  • NASA Guidance: Please continue to check NASA People for resources and updates on the agency’s response to COVID-19.
  • COVID-19: For more information about COVID-19 please visit the CDC website.
  • Symptom tracker: A guide to help make decisions and seek appropriate care via CDC’s COVID-19 self-checker
  • Rumor Control: To prevent incorrect information from spreading, FEMA has put up a website to help dispel myths about COVID-19.
  • 15 Days to Stop the Spread: The White House has provided guidance to Americans on how we can slow the spread of the disease during this critical period.

 

Update on NASA’s Response to Coronavirus

NASA leadership is determined to make the health and safety of its workforce its top priority as we navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. To that end, the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility and Stennis Space Center are moving to Stage 4 of the NASA Response Framework, effective Friday, March 20.

The change at Stennis was made due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community around the center, the number of self-isolation cases within our workforce there, and one confirmed case among our Stennis team.  While there are no confirmed cases at Michoud, the facility is moving to Stage 4 due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the local area, in accordance with local and federal guidelines.

Mandatory telework is in effect for NASA personnel at both facilities until further notice. Additionally, all travel is suspended. These measures are being taken to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 and protect our communities.

Access to Stennis and Michoud will be limited to personnel required to maintain the safety and security of the center, as approved by agency leadership and the resident agencies. All previously approved exceptions for onsite work are rescinded and new approvals will be required in order to gain access to the center.

NASA will temporarily suspend production and testing of Space Launch System and Orion hardware. The NASA and contractors teams will complete an orderly shutdown that puts all hardware in a safe condition until work can resume. Once this is complete, personnel allowed onsite will be limited to those needed to protect life and critical infrastructure.

We realize there will be impacts to NASA missions, but as our teams work to analyze the full picture and reduce risks we understand that our top priority is the health and safety of the NASA workforce.

I ask all members of the NASA workforce to stay in close contact with your supervisor and check the NASA People website regularly for updates. Also, in these difficult times, do not hesitate to reach out to the NASA Employee Assistance Program, if needed.

I will continue to say, so none of us forget – there is no team better prepared for doing hard things. Take care of yourself, your family, and your NASA team.

Ad astra,
Jim

 

NASA is Prepared for this Challenge

Our nation is facing a challenging time amid this national health emergency. The well-being of you and your families remains the top priority for NASA leadership. While we know this situation presents a number of difficulties for our missions, we are confident there is no team better prepared for doing hard things.

We have accomplished so many incredible feats as an agency. We put Americans on the Moon, landed on Mars (seven times!), launched hundreds of crewed and robotic missions into space, created life-changing technologies, transformed aviation and sustained human presence on a laboratory that flies 250 miles above Earth for nearly 20 years – just to name a few things that once were thought to be impossible.

Our Mission Continues

Coronavirus (COVID-19) will continue to test our agency’s ability to bend but not break under stress. I am convinced that we are uniquely equipped for this time of heightened need to collaborate and communicate. Teams across the agency are well-practiced in responding to mission contingencies and reacting to unforeseen challenges.

For example, Ames Research Center in California was recently elevated to Stage 4 of NASA’s Response Framework, in adherence to the local government’s “shelter-in-place” order. Thanks to the leadership of Ames Center Director Eugene Tu, NASA’s mission continues with work on the supercomputer and ensuring advancement in mission-critical work while ensuring the safety of our employees.

As of today, the coronavirus has not significantly affected NASA’s operations. Preparations continue for the Space Launch System Green Run tests, upcoming launches of the Mars Perseverance rover mission, NASA’s Commercial Crew flight to the International Space Station, and construction of our James Webb Space Telescope targeted for launch next year. We will continue to communicate major changes throughout this situation.

Take Care of Each Other

Your efforts to follow the Administration’s 15 Days to Slow the Spread plan, as well as state and local guidelines, demonstrate NASA’s desire to be responsible citizens and good members of our communities. I encourage you to visit the federal government’s newly launched website, coronavirus.gov, to stay informed about the outbreak. This website lists the many ways to protect yourself and help you take the appropriate steps if you think you are sick.

Lastly, many of us are facing a unique challenge as we work to continue our mission: how to supervise young children while working from home. There probably isn’t one magic solution (if you discover it, please share it with the rest of us!), but the NASA Kids’ Club website may offer a few minutes of respite. You also can satisfy their curious young minds with all the great videos on NASA’s Youtube channel, particularly the new #AskNASA videos.

Thank you all for the extra measures you are doing to keep yourself safe and still fulfill our mission. Please continue to check the NASA People website often for updates, however, all emergency notifications will continue to be sent by email. While our progress as a team might be harder to visualize when teleworking from different locations, each of our individual efforts will, all together, propel our agency forward. I am confident NASA will emerge from this stronger and more unified as one team than ever before.

Ad astra,

Jim

March 17 Update on NASA’s Response to Coronavirus

Agency leadership continues to monitor developments regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) around the nation. We are closely following the advice of health professionals and the White House Coronavirus Task Force to keep our workforce safe. Implementing best practices early and quickly will increase the likelihoods of better outcomes.

This evening, NASA leadership has decided to elevate all centers and facilities to Stage 3 of NASA’s Response Framework. Effective immediately, all employees and contractors will move to mandatory telework until further notice. Mission-essential personnel will continue to be granted access onsite. Please contact your supervisor as soon as possible if you have any questions.

Although a limited amount of employees have tested positive for COVID-19, it is imperative that we take this pre-emptive step to thwart further spreading of the virus among the workforce and our communities. A list of collaboration tools and information supporting telework is available on NASA’s Remote Collaboration Services webpage.

I strongly encourage you and your families to follow all local, state and federal guidelines to stay healthy and to help slow the spread of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website lists many resources available if you need help, specific state health websites can be found here. Additionally, I urge all NASA employees to follow President Trump’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America, announced yesterday afternoon. You can find these 15 Day guidelines on whitehouse.gov.

Agency leadership will continue to monitor the rapidly-evolving risks COVID-19 poses to our workforce. You should anticipate continued frequent communication from your center director, myself and others. Up-to-date agency announcements and guidelines are available on the NASA People website, please check it often.

NASA’s early and thoughtful actions in coordination with our country’s unified response to this health emergency is an incredible display of national solidarity. Thank you for your vigilance and flexibility. I am confident your diligence and commitment will ensure our mission will continue. Please make certain you are giving the appropriate attention to your health and that of your family.

Ad astra,

Jim

Update on NASA’s Response to Coronavirus

As we navigate this difficult time, the protection and care of the NASA family continues to be our top priority and the key consideration as we make decisions on how to move forward. NASA leadership is coordinating closely with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and interagency partners in our nation’s unified response to coronavirus (COVID-19) and regularly re-evaluating the conditions at each center. Your careful observance of recommendations is key to protecting our team and ensuring we accomplish our mission.

As you are aware, Ames Research Center in California was elevated to Stage 3 of NASA’s Response Framework after an onsite case of COVID-19 was confirmed on March 8. We recently received confirmation that an employee at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama has tested positive for COVID-19. As with Ames – in consultation with Marshall Center Director Jody Singer, NASA Chief Health and Medical Officer Dr. J.D. Polk, and in accordance to agency response plans ­– Marshall has been elevated to Stage 3 and is in mandatory telework status, with restricted access to the center until further notice.

While we do not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any other NASA center as of today, March 14, out of an abundance of caution, all other NASA centers are transitioning to Stage 2 of our response framework. Center directors have been in contact with their employees about this status change and steps moving forward.

In Stage 2, telework is strongly encouraged for employees who can work remotely. Take home your laptop computer, power cord, NASA badge, and any other equipment you need to work effectively from an alternate location, as well as essential personal items you may need. Stay in regular contact with your supervisor. Travel that is not mission-essential, as defined in the response framework, will be limited agencywide.

More information on leave and telework is available on the NASA People website and a list of collaboration tools and information on VPN also is available online.

If you are performing mission-essential work on center, do not go to work if you feel sick. Everyone should take extra precautions to protect themselves and others. Please continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the agency’s chief health and medical officer, and if you have questions, don’t hesitate to talk with your supervisor.

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we’ll continue to closely monitor and coordinate with federal, state, and community officials to take any further appropriate steps to help safeguard the NASA family. Please check the NASA People website regularly for additional guidance.

The vigilance our workforce has displayed in our response to coronavirus is remarkable and has placed our agency in a position of strength as we confront this national emergency. Thank you for all you are doing to care for the health of our workforce and keeping the mission going. We will get through this together and continue to accomplish amazing things for our country and all of humanity. Please take care of yourselves and your families.

Ad astra,

Jim