It’s official — the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is going to delay its plans to return astronauts to the surface of the moon.
Thanks to litigation issues, NASA will now be targeting 2025 as the earliest possible date for a crewed landing on the moon’s surface. They say the delay stems from a lawsuit filed by Amazon and Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos earlier this year. They claim that NASA was supposed to award multiple contracts for the lunar lander. Instead, Elon Musk and SpaceX were the sole recipients of the $2.91 billion award.
However, a federal court ruling last week ended the work halt. Blue Origin lost its lawsuit against NASA. But that still has caused the organization to lose out on seven months worth of contractual work with Elon Musk and his company SpaceX. NASA administrator Bill Nelson explained as much to reporters during a recent conference call.
“We’ve lost nearly seven months in litigation, and that likely has pushed the first human landing likely to no earlier than 2025,” Nelson said.
He also added that NASA will need to engage in additional discussions with SpaceX to narrow down a more specific timeline.
“After having taken a good luck under the hood these past six months, it’s clear to me that the agency will need to make serious changes for the long term success of the program.”
NASA Gearing Up for the Latest ‘Space Race’
Americans are “in a space race today, just as we were in the 1960s,” according to Bill Nelson. That reference, of course, is in part to China. It wasn’t all that long ago that they set a goal of landing astronauts on the moon in the 2030s.
“After all, the Chinese space program is increasingly capable of landing Chinese taikonauts much earlier than originally expected. The Chinese space program, which includes the Chinese military, gives us indications that they are going to be very aggressive.”
But worry not folks. Nelson has pledged his word that NASA will continue to be aggressive in every way possible to beat other nations from putting boots on the moon before we do. In order to do that, though, NASA will have to have the funds from Congress. Together, they are working out a plan that will fund 10 or more moon landings in the near future.
“Going forward, Congress has made it clear that there must be competition for the 10 plus moon landings in the future,” Nelson said. “There will be the need of a significant increase of funding for the competition and that is going to be starting with the 2023 budget.”
During the briefing, Nelson also announced some other exciting news. He revealed that an uncrewed moon landing will take place sometime before humans set foot back on the lunar surface in 2025.