The 50-year-long journey of returning humans back to the moon for the first time since 1972 is being undertaken by NASA, and according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the space agency’s target date for the launch of 2025 is unlikely to be hit.
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The new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has thrown a wet blanket on NASA’s plans for humans returning to the surface of the moon in 2025, as the report has pointed out “multiple challenges” with the space agency’s schedule, particularly with the development of the Human Landing System (HLS).
The report released on November 30 outlines development problems with the HLS, which is a modified version of SpaceX’s Starship launch vehicle, transportation to the surface of the moon, and design problems such as including larger oxygen tanks within spacesuits used by astronauts exploring the surface of the moon.
The current plan for Artemis 3 is somewhat convoluted. The HLS will use all its propellant to get into orbit, which means it requires refueling before beginning its journey to the moon. The plan includes launching a Starship fuel depot prior to the HLS launch and then docking the HLS for the refueling process. The GAO states in its report that SpaceX has made little progress in figuring out how to transfer propellant into orbit.
“SpaceX has made limited progress in maturing those technologies,” states the GAO
The GAO report states that if significant progress isn’t made on the HLS program and at SpaceX, it will be unlikely for Artemis 3 to launch in 2025, and a more realistic launch window would be 2027.