On Tuesday, October 9, the US Aerospace Agency postponed plans to return astronauts to the lunar surface. Now NASA intends to go to Earth’s satellite in 2025 instead of the previous date (2024) set by the administration of former US President Donald Trump. NASA chief Bill Nelson told reporters that the approved schedule for a flight to the moon with a crew landing on the surface by 2024 “was not substantiated by technical feasibility.”
As you know, the American lunar program called Artemis provides for the use of a super-heavy rocket Space Launch Systems and the Orion spacecraft. It includes three stages: the first is a flyby around the moon without a crew, the second is a flyby around the moon with a crew, and the third is the landing of astronauts on the lunar surface. Each of these stages has been shifted by a year, that is, the first will take place no earlier than the spring of 2022, the second is scheduled for May 2024, and the third – no earlier than 2025. Nelson also noted that before the descent of astronauts to the lunar surface, NASA plans to land the module without a crew.
NASA also links the delay to a lawsuit filed by Blue Origin by Jeff Bezos, which is trying to challenge SpaceX’s choice as the primary developer of the lander for the lunar program. The lawsuit resulted in the loss of seven months of work with the company under an agency contract. In April, SpaceX won a $ 2.9 billion contract for the Human Landing System program, proposing Starship as a solution to deliver astronauts to the moon. A federal court ruled in NASA’s favor last week, and the agency can now continue to partner with SpaceX.
Bill Nelson considers China to be the main competitor in the conquest of the moon. He noted that NASA will act aggressively and technically savvy to stay ahead of the competition in every possible way.