NASA is gearing up to announce delays in its upcoming moon missions as it grapples with technical obstacles surrounding the spacecraft designated for the missions, according to sources familiar with NASA’s internal discussions.
The U.S. space agency is set to unveil these plans on Tuesday, revealing adjustments to the Artemis program, a multi-billion dollar initiative aiming to return astronauts to the moon for the first time since the last Apollo mission in 1972.
NASA’s second Artemis mission, initially slated for late 2024, is anticipated to be postponed due to issues discovered in the Lockheed Martin-built Orion crew capsule’s batteries during vibration tests. The batteries will require replacement, posing a setback to what was supposed to be the first crewed flight, following the capsule’s uncrewed launch atop NASA’s Space Launch System in a 2022 test.
Artemis 3, designed to mark the first human landing on the moon in late 2025 using SpaceX’s Starship landing system, is also expected to face a delay. Sources suggest that Elon Musk’s SpaceX has encountered delays in reaching specific developmental milestones, contributing to the postponement.
NASA has not provided official comments on these potential delays, and both Lockheed and SpaceX are yet to respond to requests for statements.
In recent months, senior NASA officials have contemplated the possibility of rescheduling the inaugural Artemis astronaut landing to the fourth mission. This strategic move would provide SpaceX and other contractors with additional opportunities for practice before executing the historic first lunar landing in over five decades.
As the Artemis program navigates these challenges, the space community eagerly awaits NASA’s official announcement and looks to the agency’s adaptability and resilience in overcoming obstacles on its lunar exploration journey.