The United States has delayed the manned return to the Moon by 2025 as part of its Artemis program due to legal challenges and Covid-19 and hopes to do so before China reaches that satellite, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Tuesday.
“We are estimating, not before 2025, for Artemis III, which would be the human landing, ” Nelson said at a press conference. The former senator said the agency has had to deal with technology issues, legal issues that took seven months to resolve, and even the pandemic.
Nelson also said that the Artemis I mission , which will not carry astronauts on a flight to orbit the Moon, is delayed until spring 2022., while the Artemis II manned mission is targeting May 2024 .
The new timeline represents a delay from the previous goal of 2024, set by the administration of former President Donald Trump. “The Trump administration’s goal of a human landing in 2024 was not based on technical feasibility,” Nelson said.
On the other hand, he pointed out that the Chinese are being very “aggressive” in space and that the interest of NASA and the United States is to return “first” to the Moon. “We want to be the first to return there after more than half a century,” he said.
“We are facing a very aggressive Chinese space programand well (…), we have seen them achieve a lot of things”, he specified. He recalled that the Chinese installed a space station in a short period of time, it was the second nation to land a rover on Mars , they prepare the return of samples of that planet and will have robotic missions to the Moon, among other space advances.
“They give us indications that they are going to be very aggressive (…), we have every reason to believe that the Chinese are a very aggressive competitor,” he reiterated.
Nelson pointed out that one thing is to go 240,000 miles and back, and another is to travel millions and millions of miles. “There is a lot to learn on the Moon to go to Mars,” he said.
He mentioned building habitats and learning “how we’re going to exist for long periods of time in that environment, in order to prepare to take astronauts to Mars.”
The Artemis program has a number of missions planned to use its Space Launch Systems rocket and Orion capsule. The mission aims to take Orion to the Moon and beyond , to a distance from Earth that ships designed to transport human beings have never before reached.
It will not be until Artemis III that the astronauts of the US agency will step on the lunar surface and among them there will be a woman and a person of color, according to the plans of NASA, which has adopted a policy in favor of diversity and inclusion in its crews.

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