Huntsville to manage lunar lander program for Artemis moon mission

Illustration of an ascent vehicle separating from a descent vehicle and departing the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)
Illustration of an ascent vehicle separating from a descent vehicle and departing the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will be at Marshall Space Flight Center on Friday.

Posted: Aug 14, 2019 7:45 AM
Updated: Aug 14, 2019 12:41 PM

The head of NASA is heading back to the Rocket City to discuss NASA's planned return to the Moon by 2024.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will visit Marshall Space Flight Center on Friday to outline Marshall's role in the Artemis program.

NASA will be forming a cross-agency team, said Jena Rowe, NASA public affairs officer.

Marshall Space Flight Center is leading it and has the program manager, but a mixture of commercial and industry partners from Huntsville and across the country will be involved.

It is too early to tell if the actual lander will be completely put together here in Huntsville.

Tracy McMann, public affairs at Marshall Space Flight Center, said the center will be involved in the mission.

One of the reasons NASA chose Marshall Space Flight Center, said spokesperson Tracy McMann, is because it has the right personnel already in place.

From earlier:

A story on the Ars Technica website says: “According to multiple sources, Bridenstine plans to announce that the Alabama-based field center will manage the program to develop the lunar lander for the Moon program.”

The story, which you can read in full here, also says: “As part of the carefully negotiated agreement, Marshall will have responsibility for the overall program as well as two elements of what is planned to be a three-stage lander. The center in northern Alabama will oversee commercial development of the Transfer Element—planned to ferry the lander from the Lunar Gateway down to low-lunar orbit—as well as the Descent Element that will fly down to the surface.”

Last month, Dr. Lisa Watson-Morgan was named as the program manager for NASA's Human Landing System. The 30-year veteran engineer and manager will oversee the "rapid development of the lander that will safely carry the first woman and the next man to the Moon's surface in 2024."

Watson-Morgan previously served as deputy director of the Engineering Directorate at Marshall. The Huntsville native also received “a master's degree in industrial and systems engineering in 1994 and a doctorate in engineering management in 2008, both from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.”

“Lisa’s appointment to this key role not only reflects NASA’s confidence in her visionary leadership, but confidence in the proven expertise and world-class capability that define Marshall’s contributions to safely landing humans on the Moon and launching complex spacecraft to the Moon and Mars,” said Marshall Director Jody Singer.

In addition to overseeing the testing of the landing systems and conducting crewed demonstrations, Watson-Morgan will also “further manage lunar landing system integration with the Orion deep space crew vehicle, launched by the Space Launch System, that will carry Artemis explorers to and from the Gateway lunar orbital platform.”

The day before he arrives in Huntsville, Bridenstine will visit the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to meet with members of the SLS program and view progres on the core stage of the rocket involved in the Artemis 1 lunar mission.

Last month, Dr. Lisa Watson-Morgan was named as the program manager for NASA's Human Landing System. The 30-year veteran engineer and manager will oversee the "rapid development of the lander that will safely carry the first woman and the next man to the Moon's surface in 2024."

Watson-Morgan previously served as deputy director of the Engineering Directorate at Marshall. The Huntsville native also received “a master's degree in industrial and systems engineering in 1994 and a doctorate in engineering management in 2008, both from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.”

“Lisa’s appointment to this key role not only reflects NASA’s confidence in her visionary leadership, but confidence in the proven expertise and world-class capability that define Marshall’s contributions to safely landing humans on the Moon and launching complex spacecraft to the Moon and Mars,” said Marshall Director Jody Singer.

In addition to overseeing the testing of the landing systems and conducting crewed demonstrations, Watson-Morgan will also “further manage lunar landing system integration with the Orion deep space crew vehicle, launched by the Space Launch System, that will carry Artemis explorers to and from the Gateway lunar orbital platform.”

The day before he arrives in Huntsville, Bridenstine will visit the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to meet with members of the SLS program and view progres on the core stage of the rocket involved in the Artemis 1 lunar mission.

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