NASA’s Bridenstine Testifies: The Artemis Program Is the Key to the Future
By Kesha Rogers
Congress needs to fully fund the Artemis mission and other NASA programs if the United States is to continue to produce fundamental scientific and technological progress, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine stressed repeatedly in testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee on September 30. Opposition to Bridenstine’s statement of scientific and economic fact comes primarily from Democrats and others devoted to the Green New Deal and human devolution. These include first and foremost, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, who killed NASA manned space efforts and turned former NASA launch sites into dead zones where weeds predominated.
Bridenstine’s appearance before the committee came as NASA recently released a stunning report, “NASA’s Lunar Exploration Program Overview,” detailing the plans for its Artemis Moon Mission, which aims at a major milestone to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024. The report outlines the mission: We are going to the Moon to learn to utilize the resources of the Moon, and to live and work on the Moon. Bridenstine’s forward to this report reads: “Pushing the boundaries of space exploration, science, and technology once again, America is on the verge of exploring more of the Moon than ever before. This new era of lunar exploration is called Artemis. Named after the twin sister of Apollo, she is the Goddess of the Moon, and we are the Artemis Generation…. Under the Artemis program, humanity will explore regions of the Moon never visited before, uniting people around the unknown, the never seen, and the once impossible. We will return to the Moon robotically beginning next year, send astronauts to the surface within four years, and build a long-term presence on the Moon by the end of the decade.” Moon colonization, in turn, Bridenstine said, will be “the stepping stone for our next greatest leap—human exploration of Mars.”
In his opening statement to the committee, Bridenstine detailed the recent great achievements of the space agency, including the successful completion of the Demo-2 SpaceX and NASA mission to the International Space Station (ISS), launching American astronauts, from American soil, on an American rocket for the first time in more than nine years. NASA and SpaceX plans are moving forward to a scheduled Halloween launch to the ISS of four astronauts, including a Japanese partner astronaut, on the Crew-1 mission. Bridenstine also outlined the importance of funding commercialization of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) missions. “It’s not just about commercial resupply and commercial crew, we also want commercial space stations in space,” he said. More importantly, Bridenstine stressed, “What we are going to see in LEO pales in comparison to what we are going to see when we land the first woman and next man on the Moon under the Artemis program.”
“We’re going to the Moon for a lot of important reasons, but the chief reason to go to the Moon is because it accelerates our path to Mars,” Bridenstine said. “We believe that it’s important for the first person to land on Mars to be an American astronaut, and when we do go to Mars we go with our international partners.” He reported on the massive increase in funding other nations are providing to their space agencies. Japan’s, for example, has received a 50% increase in its budget. Europe is also seeing an increase in its space budget. These budget increases are all based on Japanese and European cooperation in the Artemis program and highlight why Congress must fully fund this program in the United States.
Bridenstine reported that the green run testing of the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS), the rocket that will carry the Orion crew capsule to the Moon, is progressing well. NASA is looking to test all four engines in November. He reported that the first launch of the SLS rocket with an Orion crew capsule is scheduled to launch in November 2021. But he stressed that any failure to fund Artemis beyond February 2021, when the current funding under a continuing resolution runs out, would endanger the Artemis schedule for a Moon landing by 2024 because of its impact on the Human Landing System part of the program.
Bridenstine also reported on other critical NASA scientific programs and NASA’s efforts to inspire young people to join and help shape the new space culture.
Current NASA programs are set to revolutionize aerospace engineering, including the supersonic program for the NASA X-plane Truss Braced Wings, which reduces drag and spreads the downward drag from the wing of the plane.
NASA is also playing a critical role in detecting and understanding geomagnetic, hazardous objects, and other threats to our planet. With respect to geomagnetic threats, Bridenstine spoke about the importance of understanding the Sun, solar winds, and solar radiation and their impact on the planet and on space travel. “We think coronal mass ejections and solar flares are things we have to understand very well if we’re going to have a sustainable presence beyond the Van Allen radiation belts,” he said. He also noted that a complete survey of hazardous objects with space telescopes that help better detect these threats is critically important. He commented sardonically, “The dinosaurs didn’t have a space program and it didn’t help them.”
NASA also recently released an important study on the economic impact of NASA. Bridenstine reported that the direct economic impact to the United States for 2019 was $64 billion and 312,000 jobs, based on studies performed by the University of Illinois. He cited as an example of the indirect technological benefits from space exploration the cameras which now inhabit virtually every cell phone. This technology was developed for a Mars mission in the 1990s and licensed by Nokia which put the camera into a phone.
Bridenstine also responded to questions about optical communications. NASA is partnering with Space Force on a laser communications and technology demonstrator, which will be used to transmit data developed in future missions to Mars and elsewhere in the solar system.
Bridenstine was asked what NASA is doing to inspire the next generation of young Americans. “The biggest thing that we can do as an agency to inspire that next generation that you talk about is, we have to do stunning achievements, and as you identified, that’s really what the American Moon shot was all about in the 1960s, and that’s what the Artemis program is all about today,” he said.
He spoke about programs NASA is investing in to inspire young people to get involved, programs like First Robotics, engaging universities with space grant opportunities, and contracting with universities to participate in some of the big missions. NASA started the Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative, partnering with 130 institutions across the United States. This involves understanding dust mitigation on the Moon, and using the resources on the Moon to live and work for long periods of time.
LaRouche PAC will continue to bring you more reports and updates on our nation’s space program, and what NASA is doing to transform our society, in partnership with industry and countries around the world. We are fully committed to a Moon-Mars Mission, as the key driver for scientific and economic progress. The Artemis program represents the fight for the future, and must drive the discussion for identifying a national mission, that will unleash optimism, and bring about physical economic growth and cooperation throughout our society. LaRouche PAC’s latest release “Apollo to Artemis: The Fight for the Future,” identifies the true mission at hand, and exactly what is required for you to get mobilized and active in this fight.