NASA is pushing its plans for a crewed mission to the Moon back until at least 2025, the agency announced in an update on its Artemis program on Tuesday. Originally aiming to land “the first woman and next man” on the Moon in 2024, the Artemis team still needs to complete a planned uncrewed mission and a crewed flight test around the Moon before heading for the lunar surface. The update follows a recent U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruling in favor of NASA’s selection of SpaceX for a $2.9 billion lunar lander contract.
“We’re pleased with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims’ thorough evaluation of NASA’s source selection process for the human landing system (HLS), and we have already resumed conversations with SpaceX. It’s clear we’re both eager to get back to work together and establish a new timeline for our initial lunar demonstration missions,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Returning to the Moon as quickly and safely as possible is an agency priority. However, with the recent lawsuit and other factors, the first human landing under Artemis is likely no earlier than 2025.”
The lawsuit, which alleged that NASA conducted an “unlawful and improper evaluation of proposals,” was filed by Blue Origin last August. The company was also competing for the HLS contract. In addition to lawsuit-related delays, Nelson cited first-time development challenges, Congress not appropriating sufficient funds for the HLS competition, the COVID-19 pandemic and the landing goal of 2024 not being technically feasible as challenges that led to postponing the crewed lunar landing mission.