Aiming for the moon doesn’t scare him, but we’ll have to wait a little longer. NASA boss Bill Nelson announced Tuesday, November 9, that the return of humans to the Moon as part of the US Artemis program was delayed from 2024 to 2025 “as soon as possible”.
NASA was awaiting the resolution of a legal dispute concerning the development of a moon landing gear before announcing a new schedule for Artemis 3. “We lost almost seven months in litigation and that probably pushed back the first human landing until 2025 at the earliest.”, said Bill Nelson at a press conference.
“There are other reasons”, he added. The date of 2024 had been set by President Donald Trump’s administration but was not “technically feasible”, thus assailed Bill Nelson. He also criticized the lack of funds allocated by Congress in recent years for the development of the moon lander.
The Artemis 3 mission must notably take the first woman to lunar soil. The program provides for the return of astronauts to lunar soil and the installation of a permanent base. The European Space Agency has already secured three seats for Europeans aboard the future Gateway lunar orbital station, as a contributor to the program.
The NASA chief also announced that the Artemis 2 mission, which will be the first in the program with astronauts on board but which will not land on the Moon, now had “a potential take-off date in May 2024”. This second mission, which was previously announced for 2023, “Will go farther than any human has ever been. Probably nearly 65,000 km beyond the Moon and then come back to Earth.”, said Bill Nelson.
Artemis 1, the first test mission to the Moon which will not include an astronaut on board, is still scheduled for February 2022, as recently announced.