Sat, 27 Nov 2021

NASA will miss Trump target for Moon landing

RT.com
10 Nov 2021, 22:13 GMT+10

NASA has shared that its astronauts will not return to the Moon until 2025 at the earliest, missing an ambitious target set by then-US President Donald Trump's administration to reach the lunar surface "by any means necessary."

Announcing the delay on Tuesday, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Congress had not provided enough funding for the landing system needed for its Artemis moon program and that more money is required for its Orion capsule program - which now has a revised cost of $9.3 billion.

A legal challenge from billionaire Jeff Bezos rocket company, Blue Origin, over the procurement by Elon Musk's SpaceX of the contract to construct the Artemis lunar-landing vehicle, also contributed significantly to the delay.

"We lost nearly seven months in litigation, and that likely has pushed the first human landing likely to no earlier than 2025," Nelson revealed at a news conference.

The new date of 2025 for a human landing on the Moon pushes back a deadline set by then-Vice President Mike Pence in 2019, who demanded that the country's astronauts make a lunar landing in the next five years "by any means necessary."

Nelson, however, said that the "target of a 2024 human landing was not grounded in technical feasibility" and that NASA had been aiming for a crew to return by 2028.

The space agency, however, is still aiming to launch the first test flight of its moon rocket, the Space Launch System (known also as SLS) with an Orion capsule for next February - although there will be no astronauts aboard.

Nelson also stressed that the "human landing system is a crucial part of our work to get the first woman and the first person of color to the lunar surface, and we are getting geared up to go."

Beijing, which Washington views as a competitor in exploring the cosmos, has reported that two of its astronauts, including the first female "taikonaut" from China, completed a space walk on Monday on the main module of its Tiangong station.

Wu Weiren, the chief designer of Beijing's space exploration program, said in March that "if the lunar research station project is successfully implemented, China will not be far away from achieving manned landings." Wu also revealed that China wants its astronauts to remain on the Moon for longer periods of time compared to its American rivals.

(RT.com)

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