NASA is extending its target date for sending astronauts back to the moon to 2025 at the earliest, the U.S. space agency’s chief said on Tuesday, stretching out by at least a year the timeline pronounced under former President Donald Trump.
Trump’s administration had set the aggressive goal of returning humans to the lunar surface by 2024, an initiative named Artemis intended as a stepping stone toward the even-more-ambitious objective of sending astronauts to Mars.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson cited delays from legal wrangling over the SpaceX contract to build the Artemis lunar landing vehicle as a major reason for extending the target date.
“We lost nearly seven months in litigation, and that likely has pushed the first human landing likely to no earlier than 2025,” Nelson told a news conference. “We are estimating no earlier than 2025 for Artemis 3, which would be the human lander on the first demonstration landing.”