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NASA Pushes Artemis Return to the Moon to 2025 at Earliest 

By | November 10, 2021

Artist concept of Artemis astronaut stepping onto the Moon. Photo: NASA

NASA has pushed back its target date to return humans to the Moon through the Artemis program to “no earlier than 2025.” The agency said the Blue Origin lawsuit caused delays, and the Trump administration’s landing goal of 2024 was “not technically feasible.”

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson gave an update on the Artemis program on Tuesday, now that Blue Origin’s lawsuit over the lunar lander award has been settled. Last week, a judge in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims denied Blue Origin’s request for judgement in a lawsuit over SpaceX receiving NASA’s sole lunar lander award.

“It’s clear we’re both eager to get back to work together and establish a new timeline for our initial lunar demonstration missions,” Nelson said. “Returning to the Moon as quickly and safely as possible is an agency priority. However, with the recent lawsuit and other factors, the first human landing under Artemis is likely no earlier than 2025.” 

The agency said the lawsuit resulted in an almost seven-month delay, but it has resumed conversations with SpaceX. 

In addition to the lawsuit and timeframe, NASA also blamed the slip on first-time development challenges, lack of sufficient funds for the Human Lander System (HLS) competition from Congress, and issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The 2024 timeframe to return humans to the moon was widely questioned after former Vice President Mike Pence pushed that deadline up in a speech in March 2019. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) had reported that NASA would face cost and schedule risks to meet that deadline

In addition, Nelson said Orion spacecraft development, which will take crewed and uncrewed flights around the Moon, now costs $9.3 billion from fiscal year 2012 through the first crewed flight test, which will be no later than May 2024. The previous cost was $6.7 billion.