WASHINGTON - U.S. efforts to return Americans to the moon for the first time in half a century have suffered a setback. During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, NASA officials announced that the Artemis II and Artemis III moon missions—planned for this year and next, respectively—will be pushed to September 2025 and September 2026. Artemis II is expected to put NASA astronauts in lunar orbit, while Artemis III aims to land them on the moon, where they would become the first humans to visit the lunar south pole, Jack Daleo writes for Flying. Continue reading original article.
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11 January 2024 - NASA says that "Ensuring crew safety is the primary driver for the Artemis II schedule changes. As the first Artemis flight test with crew aboard the Orion spacecraft, the mission will test critical environmental control and life support systems required to support astronauts. NASA’s testing to qualify components to keep the crew safe and ensure mission success has uncovered issues that require additional time to resolve. Teams are troubleshooting a battery issue and addressing challenges with a circuitry component responsible for air ventilation and temperature control."
The agency says that its "investigation into unexpected loss of char layer pieces from the spacecraft’s heat shield during Artemis I is expected to conclude this spring. Teams have taken a methodical approach to understand the issue, including extensive sampling of the heat shield, testing, and review of data from sensors and imagery."
“We are letting the hardware talk to us so that crew safety drives our decision-making. We will use the Artemis II flight test, and each flight that follows, to reduce risk for future Moon missions,” said Catherine Koerner, associate administrator, Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We are resolving challenges associated with first-time capabilities and operations, and we are closer than ever to establishing sustained exploration of Earth’s nearest neighbor under Artemis.”
Jamie Whitney, Senior Editor
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