NASA Delays Artemis Missions

Agency says astronauts won't walk on the moon until 2026 at the earliest
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2024 5:55 PM CST
NASA Delays Next 2 Moon Missions
Artemis II crew members from left, Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Hammock Koch, and Jeremy Hansen speak to members of the media outside the West Wing of the White House, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Tuesday was a frustrating day for people eager to see a US spacecraft return to the moon. Soon after Astrobotic Technology confirmed that a fuel leak had doomed its plan for a lunar landing in February, NASA said it had delayed its next two Artemis moon missions. The agency said the Artemis II mission, which will send a crew of astronauts around the moon, has been pushed back from November this year until September 2025 at the earliest, reports. The Artemis III mission, in which astronauts will walk on the moon for the first time since 1972, has been delayed until September 2026 at the the earliest.

"To give Artemis teams more time to work through the challenges with first-time developments, operations and integration, we're going to give more time on Artemis II and III," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at a briefing Tuesday. "Safety is our top priority," he said. Deputy associate administrator Amit Kshatriya said one issue behind the delays is a problem with the valves in the life support system of the Orion capsule, the New York Times reports. After the valves failed in tests, "it became very clear to us that it was unacceptable to accept that hardware, and we need to replace it in order to guarantee the safety of the crew," Kshatriya said,

In December, the Government Accountability Office said the timeline for the Artemis missions was overly optimistic and predicted astronauts wouldn't reach the moon until 2027, the AP reports. The agency cited issues including the development of SpaceX's Starship, along with moonwalking suits from another private company. "We need them all to be ready and all to be successful in order for that very complicated mission to come together," Kshatriya said. (More Artemis missions stories.)

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