NASA delays next two Artemis missions

  • To insure the safety of its crew, NASA is delaying its next two Artemis missions to the Moon.
  • Artemis II the crewed mission around the Moon will now launch in 2025 while Artemis III the mission to the Moon will launch in 2026.
  • These delays will also impact NASA’s plans to build a space station that orbits the Moon.

Two years ago NASA began its journey back to the Moon with the end goal of sending a crew back to our closest celestial neighbour.

That journey began with an uncrewed mission around the Moon in Artemis I which was regarded as a massive success by the space agency. The next step in that journey was Artemis II which would see a crew travelling around the Moon before returning to Earth. Artemis III is the final phase of the mission and will see humans landing on the Moon again.

However, NASA has now announced that humanity’s return to the Moon will have to be delayed. With this in mind, Artemis II (the crewed mission around the Moon) will be delayed to September 2025 and Artemis III will only launch in September 2026.

“We are returning to the Moon in a way we never have before, and the safety of our astronauts is NASA’s top priority as we prepare for future Artemis missions,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said in a press release this week.

“We’ve learned a lot since Artemis I, and the success of these early missions relies on our commercial and international partnerships to further our reach and understanding of humanity’s place in our solar system. Artemis represents what we can accomplish as a nation – and as a global coalition. When we set our sights on what is hard, together, we can achieve what is great,” added Nelson.

Aside from ensuring the safety of the crew, NASA didn’t give any additional details for the delay. Given that NASA is putting four people into a hostile environment, safety is a good enough reason to delay the mission in our opinion.

“We are letting the hardware talk to us so that crew safety drives our decision-making. We will use the Artemis II flight test, and each flight that follows, to reduce risk for future Moon missions,” said associate administrator, Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, Catherine Koerner.

With these delays to Artemis II and III, there will also be a delay with Gateway, NASA’s project to build a space station that orbits the Moon. The first elements of the space station were set to be launched in October 2025 but now this mission, dubbed Artemis IV, will only launch in 2028.

NASA has also asked Blue Origin and SpaceX to adapt their human landing systems to deliver large cargo in later missions.

“Artemis is a long-term exploration campaign to conduct science at the Moon with astronauts and prepare for future human missions to Mars. That means we must get it right as we develop and fly our foundational systems so that we can safely carry out these missions,” said Amit Kshatriya, deputy associate administrator of Exploration Systems Development, and manager of NASA’s Moon to Mars Program Office at headquarters. “Crew safety is and will remain our number one priority.”

Here’s hoping that NASA irons out all of its safety concerns and Artemis II and III launch on the new dates the space agency has set down.


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