NASA's historic mission to return humans to the Moon in 2024 is failing: what is going on
The ambitious mission of the American aerospace agency NASA, in which people are supposed to land on the Moon again, is being postponed if not completely failing. All because of disappointing audit results.
According to Cosmos Magazine, the audit was conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and came to a whole list of disappointing conclusions. The plan to land a manned mission on the surface of the Earth's natural satellite in 2025 was called "unrealistic" by the US Congressional Investigative Unit.
According to NASA's intentions, the three missions of the Artemis project should not only return humanity to the Moon but also create a base for scientific research on its surface. Last year, the first flight was successful. Experts launched the Orion spacecraft into lunar orbit.
Artemis II is next on the plan. In November 2024, it will deliver astronauts to the satellite's orbit. Then Artemis III was supposed to land on its surface in December 2025.
However, GAO experts found that internal and contractor problems prevented the completion of all processes on time. Many of them arise in the development of the lunar vehicle and spacesuits. Thus, the US government considers it unlikely that humans will return to the moon in December 2025.
The report states that NASA's "ambitious schedule" is 13 months shorter than the average schedule for the agency's largest projects. The Accounting Chamber considers its implementation unrealistic. "The complexity of manned spaceflight means that it is unrealistic to expect the program to complete development more than a year faster than the average for major NASA projects, most of which are not manned spaceflight projects," the document says.
Delays have also been observed in the development of the Human Landing System (HLS), which is supposed to deliver astronauts to the lunar surface and then return them to the Orion spacecraft. The contract for the supply of this system worth $1.15 billion was awarded to Elon Musk's SpaceX. It is expected to be a modified version of the Starship system, which is also being tested for Mars exploration. But so far, 8 of the 13 key stages of Starship HLS development have been postponed. Two orbital flight tests have also failed. Thus, the company has a significant amount of work to do on the lunar landing project.
But SpaceX is not the only contractor that is barely meeting the established schedules. Axiom Space, which was tasked with developing highly specialized spacesuits for NASA astronauts, still has "significant work to do," according to the GAO. In particular, its engineers need to address existing design issues, including changes to create the "minimum amount of emergency life support" required for the mission.
According to the Accounting Chamber's forecast, Artemis III will be able to launch no earlier than a year further from the schedule. The US government considers the beginning of 2027 to be a relatively realistic date.
Earlier, OBOZ.UA told about the Chinese rocket with a mysterious cargo that fell to the surface of the Moon.