Humanity’s return to the Moon could be in for a huge delay – GAO study explains why – DNyuz

Humanity’s return to the Moon could be in for a huge delay – GAO study explains why

NASA’s Artemis missions are set to be some of the most iconic of the decade, finally putting human boots back on the Moon for the first time since Apollo. A new study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office indicates that a delay in Artemis III is not only likely, but probably inevitable.

NASA’s Artemis I mission finally took to the air in November last year. However, it wasn’t without its issues. We saw delay after delay hit the launch. We saw so many delays, in fact, that many became worried for the mission as a whole, as many of the parts were coming up on their end-of-life date. The agency pulled it off, though, and the Orion spacecraft returned safely to Earth after 25 days of journeying.

Next, NASA plans to send astronauts around the Moon in Artemis II. After that, though, the space mission will finally set down on the Moon’s surface, giving several astronauts the same iconic opportunity that many Apollo astronauts got. That mission is currently slated for a 2025 launch, but GAO seems to think an Artemis III Delay could put that back to 2027 at the earliest.

There are a number of reasons why GAO isn’t very confident in NASA hitting its current expected launch date for Artemis III. For starters, the study says that NASA’s current schedule is exceptionally ambitious, with the agency aiming to complete the development of the first version of the Human Landing System that will help Artemis astronauts reach the moon’s surface in just 79 months from start to launch.

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While that schedule is ambitious in and of itself(it’s 13 months shorter than the average schedule for other major NASA projects), we’ve also seen some considerable delays to key events, with many of the key events surrounding the Human Landing System currently being delayed by at least six months. Some of these delays were caused when SpaceX’s Starship exploded during its first test.

SpaceX is currently on tap to provide the first version of the Human Landing System for NASA, though other companies have also been provided contracts to develop additional landing systems. The first test for Starship was delayed by seven months and then exploded mid-flight. GAO says the delay in Artemis III could also be due to the amount of technical complexity required by SpaceX for a system that can land on the Moon and take off from its surface.

Another problem that GAO has noted is the development of key systems like the new space suits that companies like Axiom Space are currently working on. Axiom Space, which unveiled the next-generation Artemis suits earlier this year is still working on ensuring that astronauts will be able to breathe in an emergency.

It’s not surprising that GAO has concerns about the timeline of the Artemis III project. There is a chance that NASA and SpaceX could pull it off. It’s already been proven that the second Starship test was more successful than its predecessor. But that doesn’t mean we’re ready to land that bad boy on the Moon just yet.

Unfortunately, only time will tell if the GAO’s concerns are enough to cause a notable Artemis III delay. If the mission is delayed until 2027, that means NASA and others will have even more time to prepare for one of the most iconic space missions of the last fifty years.

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