Climate Change Mission Control

NASA supercomputer model shows how greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) – a key driver of global warming – fluctuate in Earth’s atmosphere throughout the year. Higher concentrations are shown in red. Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio / NASA’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office

How do we work together to create a nation resilient against climate change?   

Earlier today, NASA joined forces with FEMA to co-host their Resilient Nation Partnership Network Alliances for Climate Action Virtual Forum Series 

NASA’s researchers, innovators, and pioneers are on the forefront of climate action.  NASA’s Earth observation and research supports the Biden administration’s climate agenda, which outlines putting the climate crisis at the center of our country’s foreign policy and national security. President Biden has been clear: the climate crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck, whole-of-government approach.    

Of course, we can’t mitigate climate change unless we measure and understand it. That’s NASA’s expertise.     

The sad reality is that climate change is already impacting our communities. The cost is enormous. It is loss of life. It is loss of livelihoods. And it is loss of communities.  Unless we act, and we act decisively, the poorest among us will suffer disproportionately, and instability will increase – both here at home and abroad. 

Over the past year and a half, we have all experienced firsthand the importance of looking ahead and the importance of understanding and planning for potential disasters. The poorest and most vulnerable among us are too often those who pay the highest price for inaction.     

 The Biden administration has made advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities a top priority. It is such a priority, that President Biden signed an Executive Order to do just that on day one of his presidency.   

The Biden administration has also focused on advancing environmental justice, which we know is closely linked with equity. Together, we need to further develop the capacity to monitor and reduce the detrimental impacts of hurricanes and floods. This will have a tremendous impact on America’s underserved communities.    

With the clear effects of climate change, the devastation from hurricanes and floods is severe, and growing more severe with each new year.       

In the face of disasters, there are significant equity issues when it comes to which communities gets support, and when.  But we need more. We need continued agency cooperation. We need a mission control center for climate change.    

NASA uses a mission control center for every launch and mission. In the case of the International Space Station, it has operated 24/7, 365 for over two and a half decades.  No less effort should be made to reverse the heating of our planet and to restore mother nature’s environmental balance.  

NASA is one of the world’s greatest experts in climate science, engaged in a broad range of activities to track and mitigate the effects of climate change. And we are actively focusing on making that data available and useful to U.S. citizens and beyond.  

Today I also announced that in addition to our existing Earth Science programs, we are exploring a new concept at NASA: A climate resilience design center that can help state, local, tribal, and territorial governments develop their climate resilience strategies.   

This is not something that we can do alone. It is an endeavor that is going to take collaboration with other agencies, like FEMA, and it’s going to take data from commercial companies and from international partners.    

But as one of the lead U.S. climate science agencies, NASA will take a leading role in helping our nation, and the world, prepare for the challenges to come.    

Our decisions will determine the fate of Earth. Let us protect it. Let us act boldly and with urgency. Let us preserve it for this generation – and generations that follow.       

You can watch my full remarks here. 

Ramping Up Humanity’s Return to the Moon

Hello, everyone!

I’m excited to launch this blog to keep you informed of all the incredible things we’re working on at NASA, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic where virtual has become many of our new normal.

Safety of the NASA workforce has remained our top priority throughout these challenging times. Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, Associate Administrator Bob Cabana, and I are immensely proud of our NASA family.

This agency has a long history of success in aviation, technology, human and robotic exploration. This year alone, it’s incredible what we’ve achieved with Perseverance, Ingenuity, commercial crew, sustainable aviation, and Artemis.

NASA kicked off a new initiative to expand and modify agency activities to remove barriers and challenges facing historically underrepresented and underserved communities. We’re also focusing our efforts in STEM engagement and other key areas critical to our nation, including helping tackle the climate emergency and advancing technologies that will benefit us here on Earth and farther into the solar system.

While we have maintained critical operations throughout the pandemic, we’re starting to see more and more of effects catchup with NASA and our partners. We know how dedicated our teams are because we’ve seen their perseverance tested time and time again. I anticipate the coming years will be no different – there’s so much ahead for the agency and our nation, especially with Artemis.

Now almost 50 years since our last Apollo mission, we’re preparing to return astronauts to the Moon. Once again, our crews will launch from Kennedy, and our Artemis astronauts will boldly explore more of the lunar surface than ever before, beginning with the lunar South Pole.

Teams at Kennedy are busy finalizing integration of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I flight test. We’re still eying their first launch by the end of the year. However, our crews on the ground are contending with rising COVID cases in Florida, weather, and first-time operations challenges, so we’ll have a better sense of timing after stacking operations are complete next month. This first uncrewed mission is close and it will set the stage for all Artemis missions to come.

Teams with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems and contractor Jacobs prepare to integrate the launch vehicle stage adapter (LVSA) for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the massive SLS core stage on the mobile launcher in the agency’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 22, 2021.

Our long-term lunar vision calls for so much on and around the Moon this decade – and we’re not doing it alone. Together with our commercial and international partners we’ll turn science fiction into reality when we setup the Artemis Base Camp on the surface and Gateway in lunar orbit.

Of course, the key connection between orbital and surface operations will be modern commercial human landing systems (HLS). We’ve already made an award for an uncrewed and crewed demonstration landing mission under Option A contract for HLS. While there is a stay of performance for as late as Nov. 8 on that contract, our broader efforts to work with American companies on landers for Artemis missions is moving forward.

NASA announced today it has selected five companies to mature lander design concepts that will help minimize design risks and advance new technologies while we gain critical insight toward a sustainable lunar architecture. The companies are Blue Origin, Dynetics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and SpaceX.

With this accelerated effort to focus our work on HLS concepts and risk reduction solutions this year, we’re priming industry to submit their proposals for regular crewed lunar transportation services next year. Those services, which call for carrying crew in a lander from Gateway in orbit to the lunar surface and back, are slated to begin in the late 2020s.

As we’ve done in low-Earth orbit with commercial crew and cargo, our goal is to be one of many customers in a rapidly growing lunar economy. Our cycle of development to operations is a success aboard the International Space Station. We’re seeing that model taking shape now at the Moon. And much of what we accomplish 240,000 miles from Earth will get us ready for our next giant leap – sending American astronauts to Mars.

It’s an honor to serve as Administrator in these extraordinary times. The years ahead will be tough – but inspiring and very, very rewarding. I hope you continue to follow NASA as we push the boundaries of human exploration farther into the solar system. And until we can shake hands, fist bump or whatever the new normal becomes after the pandemic, I hope you’ll follow along here, too.