Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

Lack of funds, legal dispute causes NASA to postpone plans for the first astronaut moon landing in more than 50 years.

The United States space agency, NASA, has postponed the return of astronauts to the moon until 2025 at the earliest – setting aside a deadline set by the administration of former President Donald Trump.

After 2024, NASA aimed for the first lunar landing by astronauts since the Apollo 17 mission made a lunar landing in 1972. aggressive target, drawn up by the Trump administration, was part of the agency’s Artemis program, which seeks to use the lunar landing and creation of a long-term colony as a stepping stone to a much more ambitious Mars mission.

However, NASA administrator Bill Nelson said on Tuesday that the US Congress had not provided enough money to develop a landing system for the Artemis program and that more money was also needed for the development of the Orion capsule, the spacecraft that would make the journey.

Nelson also said that legal disputes also delayed the plans. A legal challenge by Jeff Bezos’s rocket company, Blue Origin, which has challenged the US government’s decision Alon Musk’s allocating SpaceX to build its Starship lunar landing system for the initiative has delayed development for months.

The lawsuit was reject by a judge last Thursday.

“The human landing system is a crucial part of our job to get the first woman and the first person of color to the lunar surface, and we’re getting ready to go,” Nelson told reporters. He added that the Trump “target of a 2024 human landing was not based on technical feasibility”.

NASA is still aiming for the first test flight of its lunar rocket, the Space Launch System, or SLS, with an Orion capsule next February. No one will be on board.

Instead, astronauts will tie up for the second Artemis flight, which flies past the moon but does not land in 2024, a year later than planned. That would push the lunar landing to at least 2025, according to Nelson.

Nelson also recognized China’s ambitious and aggressive space program, and warned that it could overtake the US lunar exploration.

“NASA is committed to helping restore America’s prestige in the world,” he said.

“Needed in any way”

At a meeting of the National Space Council in 2019, Vice President Mike Pence called for astronauts to land on the moon within five years “in any way necessary”.

At the time, Pence said the U.S. was in a new “space race” that drew terminology from the 1960s Cold War era to counter the potential space capabilities of Russia and China.

NASA at the time was aiming for a lunar landing in 2028, and to push it up by four years was considered extremely ambitious, if not impossible.

Nelson said the agency was going to be “as aggressive as we can be in a safe and technically feasible way to knock out competitors with boots on the moon”.

He added that Congress will need to increase funding, starting with the 2023 budget.

Since 2020, NASA has launched three astronaut teams aboard SpaceX rockets to the International Space Station, with a fourth mission already expected to orbit this week.

On December 1, Vice President Kamala Harris will convene her first meeting of the National Space Council, at which she will chair.

Nelson said he updated her during their visit to Maryland’s Goddard Space Flight Center on Friday on the latest schedule and costs.

From 1969 to 1972, the American Apollo program sent six human missions to the moon, the only manned spaceflight to reach the lunar surface.

Since then, the enormous cost – and political risk – of launching another year-long mission to the moon has greatly discouraged elected officials from spearheading the venture.

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