Jan 7, 2020

NASA racing to get astronauts to the moon in four years

Miriam Kramer, author of Space

Earth rising above the Moon. Photo: NASA

NASA is racing against the clock to get its astronauts' boots back on the Moon within four years.

Why it matters: The Artemis program to the Moon is the Trump administration's flagship space mission, designed to show off U.S. capabilities in space and eventually prove out the technology needed to send humans to Mars.

  • The agency's new head of human spaceflight Doug Loverro told Axios he isn't afraid to change up the plan to meet that ambitious deadline.
  • However, the program's 2024 deadline for a lunar landing is lacking congressional support.

State of play: In an interview with Axios, Loverro said he's not afraid to make hard decisions when it comes to Artemis.

  • "I'm looking at everything in the program with a fresh set of eyes, and I expect that we will have some substantial changes because of that," Loverro said.
  • Loverro is now studying the current architecture for Artemis and he hopes to share conclusions by March.

Details: He said he's also keeping an eye on SpaceX and Boeing's progress toward crewed flights while making sure that Artemis reaches its milestones this year.

  • "I think both Boeing and SpaceX are well on the road to flying, and I have high confidence that we'll be able to fly crew to ... the station this year," Loverro said.
  • On the Artemis side, this year, NASA should begin a major test of its Space Launch System rocket designed to launch astronauts to the Moon.
  • The agency's Orion capsule will also continue its testing in preparation for its first launch with the SLS expected in 2021.

Go deeper: The make-or-break moment for U.S. spaceflight

Go deeper

John Kelly defends James Mattis against Trump attacks

John Kelly in the White House in July 2017. Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly defended James Mattis on Thursday after President Trump attacked the former defense secretary as "the world's most overrated general" and claimed on Twitter that he was fired.

What he's saying: “The president did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation,” Kelly told the Washington Post in an interview. “The president has clearly forgotten how it actually happened or is confused."

Barr claims "no correlation" between removing protesters and Trump's church photo op

Attorney General Bill Barr said at a press conference Thursday that there was "no correlation" between his decision to order police to forcibly remove protesters from Lafayette Park and President Trump's subsequent visit to St. John's Episcopal Church earlier this week.

Driving the news: Barr was asked to respond to comments from Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said Tuesday that he "did not know a photo op was happening" and that he does everything he can to "try and stay out of situations that may appear political."

Updates: Cities move to end curfews for George Floyd protests

Text reading "Demilitarize the police" is projected on an army vehicle during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C.. early on Thursday. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Several cities are ending curfews after the protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people led to fewer arrests and less violence Wednesday night.

The latest: Los Angeles and Washington D.C. are the latest to end nightly curfews. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted Wednesday night that "peaceful protests can continue without a curfew, while San Francisco Mayor London Breed tweeted that the city's curfew would end at 5 a.m. Thursday.