Astronauts Won't Walk on the Moon until 2026 After NASA Delays Artemis 2 and 3 Missions

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Astronauts Won't Walk on the Moon until 2026 After NASA Delays Artemis 2 and 3 Missions

Space News ,NASA :- In a media teleconference held on Tuesday (Jan. 9), NASA leadership announced a shift in the timeline for its flagship Artemis missions. The Artemis 2 mission, originally set for November 2024, is now rescheduled for September 2025. Likewise, the Artemis 3 moon-landing mission, initially targeted for late 2025, is now aiming for September 2026.

During the briefing, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson emphasized the agency's commitment to safety. He stated, "Safety is our top priority, and to provide the Artemis teams with more time to address challenges related to first-time developments, operations, and integration, we are extending the timeline for Artemis 2 and 3."

Jim Free, NASA's associate administrator, highlighted that the decision to delay Artemis 2 was made with crew safety as the foremost consideration. "Safety is our number one priority. As we prepare to send our friends and colleagues on this mission, we are dedicated to launching as safely as possible. We will launch when we're ready," Free stated during the press conference.

Amit Kshatriya, deputy associate administrator for NASA's Moon to Mars program, outlined various new systems and technologies being tested and developed ahead of Artemis 2. These include facilities at Kennedy Space Center to facilitate rapid propellant loading, crew ingress and egress, a new abort system, and an advanced life support system, all aimed at enhancing crew safety.

Kshatriya addressed concerns regarding the heat shield issues encountered during the Artemis 1 test flight around the moon in late 2022. He explained that while the heat shield adequately protected the Orion capsule, unexpected charred pieces were observed. Additionally, he mentioned the need to replace some life-support hardware inside the Artemis 3 Orion spacecraft due to testing failures.

The briefing also highlighted challenges with the electrical system in the crew abort system, designed to pull the capsule away from NASA's Space Launch System rocket in the event of a launch anomaly. Kshatriya reassured that investigations were underway, and multiple options were being considered to address the issue.

Artemis 2, when launched, will carry a crew of four around the moon and back to Earth, including NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Koch, as well as Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen. Despite the delays, NASA leadership remains enthusiastic about the Artemis missions, viewing them as a testament to what can be achieved through national and global collaboration when aiming for unprecedented accomplishments in space exploration.

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