Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

Image of a future crude Artemis mission using SpaceX's lunar lander.

Image of a future crude Artemis mission using SpaceX’s lunar lander.
Pictures: SpaceX

Not surprisingly, in 2024, NASA will not send astronauts to the lunar surface. Blaming the kitchen sink for the delay, the space agency now wants to send a crew, one of which Women and people of one color, To the moon in 2025.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson broke the news at a news conference earlier today, but he did it in a very strange way.

Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin in the federal court’s decision since last Friday Lost his case LANDAR LANDER’S AGAINST NASA, “Meaning Artemis Progress,” Nelson said, however, he warned at the time that NASA was not yet ready to reveal the mission deadline. Nelson then began discussing the timeline for the mission anyway.

The first date on the calendar is already known. Artemis I, in which NASA is presumed On February 12, 2022, his SLS rocket was launched for the first time. NASA recently completed stacking of rockets, including the mounting of the Orion spacecraft. 332-feet-long (101 meters)) The rocket still has to go through some tests, but NASA seems keen to light this candle early in the new year.

Nelson mentioned An approximate date for the Artemis II mission, which “will take astronauts into more space than ever before.” This crew mission to the moon and back, without landing, is now scheduled for May 2023, the previous date being April 2022.

As for the much-anticipated Artemis III mission to land people on the Moon, that will happen at some point in 2025, not 2024 as planned, Nelson said. The revised timelines won’t impact later Artemis schedules, including construction of the Lunar Gateway (a space station in lunar orbit) and various activities planned for the lunar surface in the back half of the 2020s, he added.

That Artemis III won’t happen in 2024 is hardly a surprise, as we’ve been expecting a delay for quite some time. But it was interesting to hear the reasons nonetheless.

“We’ve lost nearly seven months in litigation and that…has pushed the first human [Artemis] It is unlikely to land before 2025, “said Nelson, referring to the Blue Origin case mentioned above. NASA was not allowed by law to communicate with SpaceX until the case was settled. That said, SpaceX continues to develop lunar landers without aligning or accepting money with NASA. What was lost within seven months of the case is not immediately clear; Nelson and other NASA officials who participated in the press conference did not comment on the matter. Interestingly and possibly revealingly, Kathy Lloyders, leader of NASA’s human spacecraft program, says that despite NASA being “on hold” because of the Blue Origin case, “the people of SpaceX have continued to make progress.”

The blame game continued, as Nelson complained that previous congressmen had not allocated enough money. He also called The former president said the Trump administration’s plan for Artemis was “not based on technical feasibility.” In fact, Trump had the idea of ​​launching a crew in 2024 Instead of 2028 according to the original plan. The Covid-19 epidemic, supply chain problems and damage caused by Hurricane Ida were also cited for delays (NASA Mitchwood Assembly Facility) Durable Serious damage in August).

Nelson’s comments on “technological feasibility” are as close as we can get to NASA’s acknowledgment of technological defeat. The space agency does not like to do this, instead prefers to complain about lack of funds. The Blue Origin case may indeed delay Artemis, but NASA can rarely blame Bezos for other problems. Unfinished space suite Which, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report, “landed a moon at the end of 2024 … not possible.”

NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy provided a financial update for Orion, saying the original baseline cost for the spacecraft was $ 6.7 billion, with the revised estimate now $ 9.3 billion. It’s a big jump, but he said,Development challenges are almost always behind us during SLS and Orion. ”

At the press conference, Nelson took the opportunity to apply some intimidating tactics, in a clear attempt to technically support Congress. “We are facing a very aggressive and good Chinese space program,” he said. China is becoming “increasingly capable” of landing its tycoons on the moon, an event that could happen “much earlier than expected.” NASA, Nelson declares, “We must be as aggressive as possible to defeat our competitors with the boot on the moon – in the safest and most technically possible way.” Nelson warns that the new timeline depends on adequate funding And that Congress will have to increase the NASA budget starting in 2023.

The only-The delay of the year is probably a good thing, because it will probably turn into a safe mission. This allowed NASA more time to develop and test Next-generation spacesuit, which astronauts need to protect from lunar elements. We were waiting for another Crew travels to the moon since 1972. We can wait another year.

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