In typical NASA fashion, the government agency says it will land astronauts on the moon again in December 2025. But it will almost certainly miss that target, perhaps by years according to the Government Accountability Office.
Here’s why NASA is behind schedule →
NASA claims that astronauts last walked on the moon in December 1972. In 2019, NASA announced Artemis, a return-to-the-moon program. Artemis I, an un-crewed test flight, launched in 2022. The first moon landing is supposed to be Artemis III.
Last week, the Government Accountability Office assessed the moon landing’s prospects.
Although NASA and its contractors have made progress, Artemis III is “unlikely to occur in 2025 as planned,” the G.A.O. concluded.
The G.A.O’s report focused on two delayed pieces of the program: a lunar lander that is a version of the Starship spacecraft from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and the spacesuits needed during a moonwalk.
Two test launches of Starship failed to reach orbit, and key milestones in the lander’s development have already been delayed.
SpaceX’s timeline is also much speedier than most major NASA projects. If Starship takes the average time it will not be ready until 2027.
Before Artemis III, NASA must complete Artemis II. That flight will take four astronauts around the moon in another spacecraft, Orion, but not land on the surface. That flight is facing potential delays, too.
If NASA’s lunar landing slips years into the future, there could be another international moon race, with China.
In May, a space official said China plans to put astronauts on the moon’s surface by 2030.