- NASA on Tuesday delayed its plans to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon, announcing that the agency is targeting 2025 for a crewed landing.
- “The Trump administration’s goal of a 2024 human landing was not based on technical feasibility,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told reporters on a conference call.
- The agency also blamed a protest and lawsuit filed earlier this year by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin over a lunar lander contract, which SpaceX won.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Tuesday delayed its plan to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon, announcing that the agency is targeting 2025 for a crewed landing.
NASA’s new schedule represents a delay from the previous target of 2024, set in 2017 by former President Donald Trump’s administration—representing an ambitious push from the agency’s 2028 goal before Trump took office .
“The Trump administration’s goal of a 2024 human landing was not based on technical feasibility,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told reporters on a conference call.
Known as the Artemis program, NASA has a series of missions planned using its Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule to launch to the Moon. The Artemis I mission, which will not take astronauts on a moon-orbiting flight, was planned to launch earlier this year but is now delayed until spring 2022 at the earliest.
Nelson said the crewed Artemis II mission is targeting May 2024, while the Artemis III mission – the first time since the Apollo era to bring astronauts to the lunar surface – is not planned before 2025.
NASA also blamed the delay in a protest and lawsuit filed by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin earlier this year. Nelson said the litigation caused the loss of “about seven months” of Elon Musk’s work with SpaceX on the latter company’s lunar lander contract with the agency.
SpaceX won a $2.9 billion contract in April to build NASA’s Human Landing System program, developing a variation of its Starship rocket to carry astronauts to the Moon.
A federal court ruling last week ended the work stoppage, with Blue Origin losing the lawsuit against NASA.
In the context of the agency’s urgency to return to the Moon, Nelson referred to China’s recent progress in manned spaceflight. He stressed that NASA is “going to be as aggressive as possible in a safe and technically feasible way to defeat its competitors with boots on the moon.”
“The Chinese space program, which includes the Chinese military, signals to us that they are going to be very aggressive,” Nelson said.