Title: NASA’s Artemis Lunar Program Faces Delay, First Crewed Landing Unlikely Before 2027
In a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), it has been revealed that the first crewed landing of NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration effort is unlikely to occur before 2027. The GAO report highlights challenges faced by SpaceX and Axiom Space, crucial players in the development of the Human Landing System (HLS) lunar lander and new spacesuits for the mission.
NASA’s ambitious goal of a late 2025 landing on the Artemis 3 mission seems improbable due to slow progress on the HLS and spacesuits. SpaceX, responsible for the HLS, is experiencing multiple issues that hinder progress, including an ambitious schedule, delayed progress, and significant technical work. The GAO argued that expecting the HLS program to complete its development more than a year faster than the average for NASA major projects is unrealistic, especially considering its complexity as a human spaceflight project.
The GAO report further reveals that SpaceX’s work on the HLS has been slower than projected. Delays in key events and a longer time to reach milestones compared to other major NASA projects have become apparent. The incomplete first integrated test flight of the Starship/Super Heavy in April, along with outstanding technical milestones, were also highlighted as concerns.
NASA received an updated schedule for Starship HLS development from SpaceX in August. However, the details of this schedule have not been disclosed, leaving room for speculation regarding potential further delays. Consequently, the possibility of a late 2025 landing seems increasingly unlikely.
Another setback mentioned in the report comes from Axiom Space, responsible for developing the new lunar spacesuits. Redesigns and supply chain challenges have brought about potential delays in their development. While a preliminary design review for Axiom’s spacesuit was slated for November, there has been no official word from NASA or Axiom regarding its completion.
The GAO report sheds light on the hurdles faced by NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration effort. With SpaceX facing significant obstacles in developing the HLS and Axiom Space experiencing potential setbacks in spacesuit development, the timeline for a crewed landing has been pushed back. The first crewed landing is now unlikely to take place before 2027, highlighting the complexities and challenges of space exploration.
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