NASA Delays Return to the Moon: Artemis II and III Pushed to 2025 and 2026 Due to Technical Challenges and Commitment to Astronaut Safety
NASA has pushed back its epic return to the moon. The agency announced that technical challenges and a commitment to astronaut safety are forcing them to delay the first crewed Artemis missions.
Artemis II, which will be the first flight test of astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft, is now targeting September 2025 instead of 2024 as originally planned. This mission will take the crew on a trip around the moon before returning safely to Earth.
The big kahuna Artemis III, which will land the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface, has been pushed back even further to September 2026.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said they are still processing data from the uncrewed test flight Artemis I which orbited the moon last November. That flight uncovered some issues, like heat shielding concerns, that they want to fully address before putting astronauts on board.
Safety is priority number one, according to Nelson. He said collaborating closely with commercial and international partners will be key for making the entire Artemis program a success for all humanity.
The delays will allow more time to test critical new technologies too, like SpaceX’s human landing system that will ferry astronauts between Orion and the lunar surface on Artemis III. NASA also asked SpaceX and Blue Origin to start working on cargo variations of their landers to haul more equipment.
While it’s disappointing to see these highly anticipated moon missions postponed, NASA officials emphasized this is all part of the learning process.
With each Artemis flight, NASA gains experience and reduces risks for future missions. Even with the delays, the excitement is palpable as NASA gets closer to establishing a permanent human presence on the moon again after decades.