NASA has changed plans for the Artemis program. According to the original plans, astronauts were to reappear on the lunar surface in 2024 at the latest. Due to judicial problems, it is necessary to postpone the mission for at least one year.
NASA will not send astronauts to the moon in 2024. As the administrator of the US space agency announced on Tuesday, the schedule of the mission to return to our natural satellite, set by former US President Donald Trump, must be postponed by at least a year.
“ We estimate that the Artemis 3 ship, which would transport people to the moon, will be selected in the SpaceX competition not earlier than 2025, ” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson.
As Nelson added, the mission date postponement is related to a litigation that prevented communication between NASA and SpaceX. A federal judge last Thursday dismissed a lawsuit by the space company Blue Origin (owned by Jeff Bezos) against the US government. The document was to concern NASA’s decision to award a contract for a $ 2.9 billion lunar lander to SpaceX (owned by Elon Musk), i.e. the Blue Origin competition.
NASA announced that work on the lander will resume as soon as possible.
Artemis program – new schedule
NASA had previously sought to return manned spacecraft to the lunar surface. Their plans, however, assumed the start of the mission in 2028. Earlier, in 2024, the Gateway space station was to be placed in orbit of the moon. President Trump decided to step up efforts and start the mission earlier.
According to the latest assumptions, the first mission of the Artemis program – the test, unmanned flight of the Orion capsule and the new Space Launch System (SLS) launcher – is to start in February 2022.
Nelson also mentioned that the first manned flight of the SLS-Orion spacecraft will take place no later than May 2024. On this trip, the astronauts are to be taken more than 63,000 kilometers beyond the Moon – further than ever before – and return to Earth.
He added that the landing of a man on the moon is not predicted earlier than 2025. It has to be preceded by an unmanned satellite mission, and in this case NASA experts are not able to give the exact date.
The return of people to the surface of the moon is to be a step towards even more bold goals related to the future conquest of Mars.
The Artemis program is named after the Greek goddess of hunting and the moon, Apollo’s twin sister. It is a tribute to all those working on the Apollo missions, thanks to which in the years 1969-1972 six people could be on the surface of our natural satellite. The entire Artemis program involves NASA’s collaboration with commercial companies such as SpaceX.
In September, NASA announced its decision to split space flight into two separate sectors. One is to focus on so-called “big missions”, such as future flights to the Moon and Mars, and the other will focus on shorter operations, such as flights to the International Space Station (ISS), among others.
Main photo source: NASA / Jason Roberts