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Science and Environment

NASA pushes back crewed Moon landing to 2025 or later

Agence France-Presse
NASA pushes back crewed Moon landing to 2025 or later
This handout illustration courtesy of NASA shows NASA's Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) on the surface of the Moon. NASA on September 20, 2021, announced it would land an ice-seeking rover on a region of the Moon's South Pole called the Nobile Crater in 2023. The space agency hopes the robot will confirm the presence of water ice just below the surface, which could one day be converted into rocket fuel for missions to Mars and deeper into the cosmos.
NASA / AFP

WASHINGTON, United States — The United States will send a crewed mission to the Moon "no earlier than 2025," NASA chief Bill Nelson told reporters on Tuesday, officially pushing back the launch by at least a year.

A target of 2024 was set by the administration of former president Donald Trump when it launched the Artemis program.

But the program has since faced numerous development delays ranging from its vehicles to the space suits required.

Last week, NASA won a court case brought by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin which sued after losing a lander contract to Elon Musk's SpaceX.

"We lost nearly seven months in litigation and that likely has pushed the first human landing likely to no earlier than 2025," Nelson said on a call.

"The good news is that NASA is making solid progress," said Nelson, citing the fact that the mission's Orion crew capsule has since last week been stacked atop the giant Space Launch System rocket at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA is targeting a first uncrewed mission, Artemis 1, in February 2022, and Artemis 2, the first crewed mission that will perform a flyby of the Moon, in 2024.

Separately, SpaceX needs to carry out an uncrewed landing to test out the lunar version of its Starship rocket, before the same vehicle is used for the crewed landing.

Nelson revealed NASA was committed to a total development cost for Orion of $9.3 billion, which encompasses the period between 2012 and 2024, up from the previous estimate of $6.7 billion.

- New space race with China -

But he warned more funding would be required from Congress to meet the new timelines, adding: "The Chinese space program is increasingly capable of landing Chinese taikonauts much earlier than originally expected."

"We are facing a very aggressive and good Chinese space program," he continued. 

"It's the position of NASA, and I believe the United States government, that we want to be there first back on the Moon after half a century."

China, the world's second-largest economy, has put billions into its military-run space program, with hopes of having a permanently crewed space station by 2022.

It has already sent rovers to the Moon, including one to the far side, and is aiming for a first crewed lunar mission by 2029.

Humans last landed on the Moon in 1972 on America's Apollo 17 mission.

NASA says the Artemis program will include the first woman and first person of color to set foot on the surface of Earth's natural satellite.

The agency wants to build a sustained habitat on the Moon and use the lessons learned from long expeditions there to develop a crewed mission to Mars by the 2030s.

MOON LANDING

NASA

OUTER SPACE

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 13, 2022 - 10:54am

Monitor major developments on space explorations and the status of missions.

May 13, 2022 - 10:54am

That's one small pot of soil, one giant leap for man's knowledge of space agriculture: scientists have for the first time grown plants in lunar soil brought back by astronauts in the Apollo program.

The ground-breaking experiment, detailed in the journal Communications Biology on Thursday, has given researchers hope that it may be possible to one day grow plants directly on the Moon.

That would save future space missions much hassle and expense, facilitating longer and farther trips.

However, according to the study's University of Florida authors, much remains to be studied on the topic, and they intend to leave no stone unturned. -- AFP

May 6, 2022 - 2:42pm

NASA's Crew-3 mission returns home to Earth on Friday after six months aboard the International Space Station.

The SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft with NASA astronauts Kayla Barron, Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, undocked from the orbital laboratory a day earlier.

Their 23.5 hour journey back saw them splash down off the coast of Florida at 12:43 am (0443 GMT).

"On behalf of the entire SpaceX team, welcome home," a SpaceX official said to the crew moments after the capsule splashed down. — AFP

April 25, 2022 - 10:03am

The crew of the first fully private mission to the International Space Station departed the orbiting laboratory on Monday to head back to Earth.

The three businessmen and a former NASA astronaut had spent more than two weeks on the station on a history-making mission organized by startup company Axiom Space.

The SpaceX capsule undocked from the ISS at 0110 GMT for the return trip and was scheduled to land in the ocean off the coast of Florida at around 1:00 pm local time (1700 GMT). — AFP

April 16, 2022 - 10:27am

State broadcaster CCTV says three Chinese astronauts landed in northern China on Saturday after 183 days in space, ending the country's longest crewed space mission to date.

The Shenzhou-13 spacecraft is the latest mission in Beijing's drive to become a major space power rivalling the US, after landing a rover on Mars and sending probes to the Moon.

The two men and one woman -- Zhai Zhigang, Ye Guangfu and Wang Yaping -- landed in a small capsule shortly before 10 am Beijing time, after six months aboard the Tianhe core module of China's Tiangong space station. — AFP

April 6, 2022 - 8:13am

The latest test of NASA's giant Moon rocket SLS has been pushed back to allow for a SpaceX rocket to launch later this week, the US space agency announces.

The dress rehearsal for the giant Space Launch System had been scheduled for Friday at launch pad 39B at Cape Canaveral, Florida, at the same time as SpaceX's lift-off from pad 39A.

The test of the rocket, which is to return humans to the Moon, is now expected to resume shortly after the take-off of the SpaceX flight, which is to carry three businessmen and a former astronaut to the International Space Station. — AFP 

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