The Moon as seen from the International Space Station. Photo: NASA

NASA has chosen Kathy Lueders as the next head of human spaceflight for the space agency. She is the first woman to lead human spaceflight at NASA.

Why it matters: Lueders will be key to NASA's plans to land a crew on the surface of the Moon by 2024 as part of the Artemis program.

Background: Lueders previously managed the Commercial Crew Program, which scored a big win with SpaceX's first crewed mission to the International Space Station on May 30.

  • “She has a deep interest in developing commercial markets in space, dating back to her initial work on the space shuttle program," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement referencing her work with Commercial Crew and Commercial Cargo, which uses private companies to bring supplies to the space station.

The intrigue: NASA's previous head of human spaceflight, Doug Loverro resigned suddenly in May after less than one year on the job.

  • Loverro's goodbye note to the agency made reference to a "risk" he took that turned out to be a "mistake."

The big picture: It's not yet clear whether NASA will make its deadline for landing on the Moon in four years.

  • The coronavirus has caused delays to some of the large projects — like the Space Launch System rocket — that are needed in order to get people to the lunar surface.

Go deeper: NASA's 2024 moonshot may not work

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 23, 2020 - Science

Planetary science in the private space age

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The private spaceflight industry isn't just interested in being the manufacturing and infrastructure workhorse in space — some want in on exploration.

Why it matters: Studying planets from close range has long been the realm of governments able to fund and fly missions to distant locations like the Moon, Mars and Venus. Now, private companies are shooting for those destinations and they're prioritizing science at the same time.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 23, 2020 - Science

Blue Origin to launch rocket Thursday

New Shepard taking flight. Photo: Blue Origin

Blue Origin is planning to launch its 13th uncrewed flight of its suborbital New Shepard system on Thursday, the Jeff Bezos-founded company announced.

Why it matters: The flight will mark the first New Shepard test of 2020. This system last flew in December 2019.