Moon Mission Artemis III Faces Major Delays—SpaceX, Axiom Causes Schedule Chaos!

Moon Mission Artemis III Faces Major Delays—SpaceX, Axiom Causes Schedule Chaos!
(Image: Nasa)

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on November 30, 2023, concerning the upcoming launch of the Artemis III moon mission. This mission aims to land humans on the moon’s surface again in 2025. However, the report predicts a delay in the launch until early 2027.

The primary reason behind this delay is the dependence on private space companies like SpaceX and Axiom. Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, is contributing a modified Starship as the lunar lander for the Artemis III mission. Meanwhile, Axiom is expected to supply the new commercial spacesuits for lunar surface activities.

The GAO authority expressed concerns about potential setbacks in the moon mission. The report highlighted delays in SpaceX’s Starship program and design issues with the spacesuits provided by Axiom, posing a threat to NASA’s schedule. It stated, “NASA and its contractors have made progress, including completing several key milestones, but they still face numerous challenges in developing the human landing system and spacesuits.”

For the Artemis III lunar landing mission and subsequent expeditions to the moon’s surface, astronauts will depart Earth using NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) mega-moon rocket and fly near the moon using the Orion spacecraft. The spacecraft will then dock with SpaceX’s commercial lander, ultimately landing on the lunar surface with two astronauts.

NASA has been speculating about a potential delay for Artemis III for some time. Jim Free, head of the Artemis program at NASA, had indicated in June that the launch might be pushed to 2026. In August, Free hinted that NASA might “ultimately fly a different mission” if the hardware required for the moon landing wasn’t ready. This could potentially pave the way for Blue Origin’s moon lander, owned by Musk’s competitor Jeff Bezos, to carry the next humans to the lunar surface ahead of SpaceX.

Instead of a lunar landing, other missions focused on lunar exploration might take precedence over Artemis III. Free referred to experiences with the International Space Station (ISS) construction, where NASA and its international partners revised plans multiple times based on the readiness of new modules and other elements.

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Ronald Peart
As an AI and machine learning aficionado, Ronald Peart unravels the complexities of artificial intelligence, offering comprehensive insights and updates on the tech landscape.