After Apollo 17 mission to the moon in 1972, no human has ever set foot on the moon’s surface again. NASA is planning to send humans to the lunar surface during Artemis 3 mission aboard SpaceX Starship. However, NASA recently announced that SpaceX may delay delivering its $2.89 billion contract, according to Spacenews. This announcement revealed that the American Space Agency may experience a delay in its Artemis 3 launch date.
Jim Free, the NASA associate administrator for exploration systems development shared his concern while addressing officials at a joint meeting of the National Academies’ Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board and Space Studies Board on June 7.
Why Artemis 3 Launch Date May Be Postpune to 2026
NASA selected SpaceX to develop a human lander system that will carry two American astronauts to the moon in 2025 during Artemis 3 mission. The contract also mandates SpaceX to land an uncrewed mission to the lunar surface before attempting a crewed mission. NASA also hopes that the tanker vehicle to fuel the spaceship before its mission to the moon is also expected to be launched into Earth’s orbit. Demonstrations of cryogenic fluid transfer are expected to be executed in space before commencing the mission to the lunar surface.
“That’s a lot of launches to get those missions done,” Free said. “They have a significant number of launches to go, and that, of course, gives me concern about the December of 2025 date” for Artemis 3. With the difficulties that SpaceX has had, I think that’s really concerning. You can think about that slipping probably into ‘26,” he added.
The progress made by SpaceX So Far
On April 20, SpaceX launched its Starship rocket for the first time after receiving a license from FAA. However, the megarocket exploded four minutes after liftoff, with the flight termination due to failure encountered in several engines.
“They’re doing everything they can, but they look at the launch license for the next mission,” Free said of the FAA. “What I tried to convey to him is our big picture of everything that’s going to take to get to that human lander.”
While everyone is looking forward to the date of the next test flight, SpaceX is yet to issue an official statement about when the next liftoff will commence. Elon Musk, the Chief Executive Officer of SpaceX revealed that the space agency will be ready for the next test flight in a few months to come.
However, Even though, SpaceX technicians are yet to show visible progress at the Starbase test site, every space lover remained hopeful about the future of starship among the stars. Free strongly believed that SpaceX will keep to its promises of delivering the perfect lander for crewed missions to the moon.
“I get a lot of questions, ‘Will you make the date?’ Well, they need to get flying before we can get any kind of assessment. If they’re not flying on the time they’ve said, it does us no good to have a firmly fixed price contract other than we’re not paying more,” he concluded.
SpaceX and NASA have adjusted a critical design review of the lander until the agency demonstrates cryogenic refueling in the low Earth’s orbit. While NASA is hopeful about landing humans on the lunar surface aboard SpaceX human lander, the agency may likely postpone the Artemis 3 launch date until 2026. What do you think about this announcement?