NASA Likely to Push Crewed Moon Mission Back to 2026

by Shelby Scott
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Space travel and exploration have become increasingly advanced in the decades since man first landed on the moon. For the past several years, NASA has been in the process of drawing up pulling together a crewed moon mission. However, now, the space agency’s plans are likely to slip back to 2026. The initial launch was once scheduled as early as 2024.

According to the Daily Mail, there is a multitude of reasons why NASA keeps experiencing delays. Additionally, delays affect not only the Artemis III Lander Mission but its preceding two missions as well.

The outlet, generally, attributes the repeated setbacks to issues relating to the missions’ space suits and the craft’s lander system. NASA’s Inspector General Paul Martin shared with the House space subcommittee hearing his findings regarding the mission.

“Apart from its cost, NASA’s initial three Artemis missions face varying degrees of technical risk that will push launch schedules from months to years past [the] agencies[‘] goals.”

As to the NASA program’s cost, the outlet reports each Artemis mission, three in total, would cost at least $4.1 billion. Further, Martin reports, “NASA will spend $53 billion on Artemis from 2021 to 2025,” leaving “a price tag that strikes us as unsustainable.”

After sharing his finds, Martin provided his estimated launch dates for each of the Artemis mission’s launches. Artemis I, an uncrewed mission that will orbit the moon, is currently scheduled to launch sometime in July. However, considering previous delays, it could be longer before we see Artemis commence.

NASA’s Future Plans for the Artemis Mission

The second mission, Artemis II, entails a crewed craft that will orbit the moon. The second mission had no particular date estimate detailed in the article. However, if Artemis I sees delay, then NASA will surely have to delay Artemis II.

Artemis III is a crewed craft intended by NASA to, finally, land on the moon. Overall, it marks the most significant part of the mission. As per the outlet, Artemis III will feature a crewed craft, intended to make land directly upon the moon’s surface.

Martin provided further details regarding NASA’s plan for Artemis III and the repeated delays.

“For Artemis III, given the time needed to develop and test a human landing system, and NASA’s next-generation space suits, we estimate the date for a crewed lunar landing likely will slip to 2026 at the earliest.”

Nevertheless, considering the cost of the mission, Martin did credit NASA for trying to reduce costs as much as possible.

“To its credit,” he began, “NASA is taking steps to help reduce costs and accelerate Artemis mission schedule, including modifying procurement and program management practices.”

In the end, NASA hopes to use knowledge from the Artemis mission and apply that to future missions to Mars. NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, Jim Free, said, “For me it is very simple, our ultimate goal is putting people on Mars. It is getting two people to Mars, on the surface for 30 days, and getting them back safely.”

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