NASA is delaying two upcoming moon missions, including the flight meant to carry the first Canadian astronaut around the moon, after ongoing technical issues with its spacecraft left the agency concerned about the crews’ safety.
Artemis II, the first crewed mission to the moon in half a century, was scheduled to launch this November but will now leave no earlier September 2025. Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen, 47, is assigned to the flight as a mission specialist.
The Artemis III mission, set to send humans to the lunar south pole, will be postponed from 2025 to 2026.
The U.S. space agency announced its plans in a news conference Tuesday.
“We’re committed to launching as safely as possible and we will launch when we’re ready,” said NASA associate administrator Jim Free.
Officials said Tuesday their team have spent months trying to solve various issues with spacecraft but need more time to work through those problems so the flights can be approved for crew safety.
“Though challenges are clearly ahead, our teams are making incredible progress,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson. “Safety is our top priority.”
The multi-billion dollar Artemis program is intended to re-establish humans’ presence on the moon for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972, with hopes of using learnings from those missions in sending the first astronauts to Mars.
NASA and its partners from other space agencies have so far planned Artemis I, an uncrewed flight which went into lunar orbit 2022, through Artemis V missions.
Artemis IV remains on track to launch in 2028.
NASA’s Artemis program relies heavily on private companies. It will use the Boeing BA.N and Northrop Grumman-led NOC.N Space Launch System to lift humans off Earth, Lockheed’s Orion capsule to propel them toward the moon and SpaceX’s Starship to take them on and off the lunar surface.
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