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Photo: NASA/JSC

Long-delayed NASA programs like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and Space Launch System (SLS) mega-rocket could threaten the space agency’s future missions, like the Artemis program to send people back to the Moon by 2024, according to an independent report released May 30.

Why it matters: NASA is asking Congress for an extra $1.6 billion above its original budget request for fiscal year 2020 to jumpstart Artemis.

  • However, according to the report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), NASA can’t afford more delays with the SLS if they want to meet the Trump administration's 2024 deadline.
  • NASA plans to use the SLS as a key part of its plans for the Moon, with multiple launches of the rocket expected ahead of a human landing.

Details: According to the GAO report citing NASA officials, it’s “unlikely” the SLS will see its first flight in 2020, as the space agency expects. That said, NASA is planning to use some of the extra funding requested for Artemis to continue developing and testing the SLS.

  • The GAO criticized NASA's continued cost overruns with the JWST, for example. That telescope is now expected to cost nearly $10 billion, $2 billion more than initially projected.
  • “I think the fact that Webb has been such a poison pill in the middle of NASA’s program still stands out,” Logsdon said. “Particularly NASA robotic science is paying a very high price for the problems with Webb.”

Yes, but: NASA “generally agreed” with the recommendations made, according to the GAO. However, history suggests the space agency may not implement them fully.

  • “We’ve had some very basic recommendations that we’ve been pushing for the past 10 years at least, and they can still be adopted more by NASA,” the GAO’s Cristina Chaplain said in a podcast about the report.
  • Those recommendations include being more "realistic" about the cost and schedules of large programs, being sure to update them along the way.
  • The GAO has also recommended that NASA be sure to include reserves in the human spaceflight systems programs to manage risk and potential cost overruns.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. World: Boris Johnson announces month-long lockdown in England — Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections.
  3. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  4. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.

North Carolina police pepper-spray protesters marching to the polls

Officers in North Carolina used pepper spray on protesters and arrested eight people at a get-out-the-vote rally at Alamance County’s courthouse Saturday during the final day of early voting, the City of Graham Police Department confirmed.

Driving the news: The peaceful "I Am Change" march to the polls was organized by Rev. Greg Drumwright, from the Citadel Church in Greensboro, N.C., and included a minute's silence for George Floyd. Melanie Mitchell told the News & Observer her daughters, age 5 and 11, were among those pepper-sprayed by police soon after.

6 hours ago - Health

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in England

Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A new national lockdown will be imposed in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close, except for takeout and deliveries. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Different households will be banned from mixing indoors. International travel, unless for business purposes, will be banned. The new measures will last through at least December 2.