NASA reveals sending the first woman and next man to the moon by 2024 is ‘unlikely’ due to lack of funding, scheduling issues and the impact of the coronavirus had on operations
- NASA’s Artemis mission was set to kick off in 2024, but a report says otherwise
- The report cites a number of concerns like funding, scheduling and scope
- NASA says it still needs to complete and test key vehicles like the lunar lander
- Its operations have also been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic
- In mid-April, NASA had to close 12 of its 18 major facilities due to the virus
- The agency had requested $1.4 billion in funding and has received $600 million
NASA first announced plans to send the first woman and next man to the moon by 2024 last year, but a new report says hitting the targeted date is ‘unlikely.’
The report, titled ‘2020 Report on NASA’s Top Management and Performance Challenges,’ highlights a number of challenges including funding, scheduling and scope of the Artemis mission.
Some of the major concerns surround key technologies of the mission, such as the production and certification of the Space Launch System rocket and the completion of the Orion crew capsule.
Among technology restraints, NASA’s plans have been impacted by the coronavirus – by mid-April, 12 of the agency’s 18 major facilities were closed and could not hit necessary timelines.
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NASA first announced plans to send the first woman and next man to the moon by 2024 last year, but a new report says hitting the targeted date is ‘unlikely’
‘We believe the Agency will be hard-pressed to land astronauts on the Moon by the end of 2024,’ the report reads.
‘At the very least, achieving any date close to this ambitious goal—and reaching Mars in the 2030s—will require strong, consistent, sustained leadership from the President, Congress, and NASA, as well as stable and timely funding.
‘For its part, NASA must determine the true long-term costs of its human exploration programs, set realistic schedules, define system requirements and mission planning, form or firm up international partnerships, and leverage commercial space capabilities.’
NASA was initially eyeing 2028 for its Artemis mission, however President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had encouraged the agency to accelerate their efforts and target the mission four years earlier.
Some of the major concerns surround key technologies of the mission, such as the production and certification of the Space Launch System rocket and the completion of the Orion crew capsule
Trump did criticize NASA months after for aiming to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024, saying the agency should focus instead on ‘much bigger’ initiatives like going to Mars -undercutting his previous support for the lunar initiative.
‘For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago,’ the president wrote on Twitter. ‘They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science
President-elect Joe Biden’s Democratic party notes that it supports ‘NASA’s work to return Americans to the moon and go beyond to Mars, taking the next step in exploring our solar system,’ but has not addressed the 2024 target.
NASA was initially eyeing 2028 for its Artemis mission, however President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had encouraged the agency to accelerate their efforts and target the mission four years earlie
Funding is a huge part of the Artemis mission, as NASA requested $1.4 billion from the US government to create the lunar lander that would take the astronauts to the moon’s surface.
However, the request has not been fully granted – they have been given only $600 million.
Alongside the astronaut landings, NASA had plans to build a ‘Lunar Gateway’ outpost that would should have been orbiting the moon as of now.
‘We anticipate further schedule delays and cost increases, making the Gateway unlikely to be available for the planned 2024 lunar landing,’ NASA shared in the report.
NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis mission
Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology.
NASA has chosen her to personify its path back to the Moon, which will see astronauts return to the lunar surface by 2024 – including the first woman and the next man.
Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars.
Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Artemis 1 will be an uncrewed flight that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.
During this flight, the spacecraft will launch on the most powerful rocket in the world and fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown.
It will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about a three-week mission.
Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. This graphic explains the various stages of the mission
Orion will stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before.
With this first exploration mission, NASA is leading the next steps of human exploration into deep space where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems near the Moon needed for lunar surface missions and exploration to other destinations farther from Earth, including Mars.
The will take crew on a different trajectory and test Orion’s critical systems with humans aboard.
The SLS rocket will from an initial configuration capable of sending more than 26 metric tons to the Moon, to a final configuration that can send at least 45 metric tons.
Together, Orion, SLS and the ground systems at Kennedy will be able to meet the most challenging crew and cargo mission needs in deep space.
Eventually NASA seeks to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.
The space agency hopes this colony will uncover new scientific discoveries, demonstrate new technological advancements and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy.