NASA delays crewed Moon landing until 2025, citing technical infeasibility

The space agency wants you to know they are still committed to the project

NASA has delayed the first Artemis crewed mission to the Moon until 2025, rather than the previously planned 2024.

The goal date of 2024 was originally set by the Trump administration in 2017. The failure of that timetable is not uniquely Trumpy. George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush had done similar, with Jr stating the US must do so by 2020 and Daddy Bush giving much more vague directives.

“The Trump administration’s target of 2024 human landing was not grounded in technical feasibility,” NASA’s head honcho Bill Nelson said on a conference call during which he delivered the first major Artemis update under the Biden-Harris Administration.

He also gave some dollar amounts, announcing the development of the Orion spacecraft used in the Artemis mission has reached US$9.3bn since 2012 through the first crewed flight test to take place no later than May 2024.

The Artemis mission includes a series of missions that use NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) - the most powerful rocket the agency has ever built. Artemis I (planned 2022) is an uncrewed test of the SLS and its accompanying spacecraft Orion. Artemis II (2024) will be the first crewed test flight of the series and should sail 40,000 miles past the Moon, further in space than any human have travelled before. Only after those are completed will the Artemis III lunar landing occur. An Artemis IV is also planned for 2026, and Artemises V through VIII at this point are “proposed.”

As if the timeline for the Artemis Moon landing wasn’t aggressive enough in engineering terms, NASA has been battling legal issues since Blue Origin sued the space agency claiming it unfairly awarded rival SpaceX a US$2.94B contract to develop the lunar lander slated for use in Artemis III.

“We’re pleased with the US Court of Federal Claims’ thorough evaluation of NASA’s source selection process for the human landing system (HLS), and we have already resumed conversations with SpaceX. It’s clear we’re both eager to get back to work together and establish a new timeline for our initial lunar demonstration missions,” said Nelson, who then reassured his audience that returning to the Moon as quickly and safely as possible is an agency priority.

In addition to the technical infeasibility on a tight schedule and the lawsuit, the NASA administrator cited COVID-19, Congress not appropriating sufficient funds for the SLS competition, and general first-time development challenges as adding to the delay.

Nelson did say that NASA plans to issue a formal solicitation next spring for recurring human landing systems services, so maybe that will be Jeff Bezos' shot at a fat government contract.

SpaceX, meanwhile, is pressing ahead with development of its own "Starship", a rocket with greater payload capacity than SLS and also better re-usability. NASA has pondered using Starship as part of the Artemis program, including for crewed lunar missions. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • A peek into Gigabyte's GPU Arm for AI, HPC shops
    High-performance platform choices are going beyond the ubiquitous x86 standard

    Arm-based servers continue to gain momentum with Gigabyte Technology introducing a system based on Ampere's Altra processors paired with Nvidia A100 GPUs, aimed at demanding workloads such as AI training and high-performance compute (HPC) applications.

    The G492-PD0 runs either an Ampere Altra or Altra Max processor, the latter delivering 128 64-bit cores that are compatible with the Armv8.2 architecture.

    It supports 16 DDR4 DIMM slots, which would be enough space for up to 4TB of memory if all slots were filled with 256GB memory modules. The chassis also has space for no fewer than eight Nvidia A100 GPUs, which would make for a costly but very powerful system for those workloads that benefit from GPU acceleration.

    Continue reading
  • GitLab version 15 goes big on visibility and observability
    GitOps fans can take a spin on the free tier for pull-based deployment

    One-stop DevOps shop GitLab has announced version 15 of its platform, hot on the heels of pull-based GitOps turning up on the platform's free tier.

    Version 15.0 marks the arrival of GitLab's next major iteration and attention this time around has turned to visibility and observability – hardly surprising considering the acquisition of OpsTrace as 2021 drew to a close, as well as workflow automation, security and compliance.

    GitLab puts out monthly releases –  hitting 15.1 on June 22 –  and we spoke to the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, about what will be added to version 15 as time goes by. During a chat with the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, The Register was told that this was more where dollars were being invested into the product.

    Continue reading
  • To multicloud, or not: Former PayPal head engineer weighs in
    Not everyone needs it, but those who do need to consider 3 things, says Asim Razzaq

    The push is on to get every enterprise thinking they're missing out on the next big thing if they don't adopt a multicloud strategy.

    That shove in the multicloud direction appears to be working. More than 75 percent of businesses are now using multiple cloud providers, according to Gartner. That includes some big companies, like Boeing, which recently chose to spread its bets across AWS, Google Cloud and Azure as it continues to eliminate old legacy systems. 

    There are plenty of reasons to choose to go with multiple cloud providers, but Asim Razzaq, CEO and founder at cloud cost management company Yotascale, told The Register that choosing whether or not to invest in a multicloud architecture all comes down to three things: How many different compute needs a business has, budget, and the need for redundancy. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022