This was revealed by internal documents from the US space agency. The magazine revealed it on Monday Ars Technica. It contains a timeline of launches to the Moon, at a rate that won’t even reach the rate of one mission each year before 2030.
These documents appeared around the same time as what should be The “last test” of the new lunar rocket reactors, still called the Space Launch System (SLS). However, NASA has not committed to this being the last test before its first launch, which is scheduled for an unspecified date this year.
Officially, the space agency is still committed to its Artemis program – the name of the lunar program – planning three SLS launches: a first unmanned, a second with two astronauts in lunar orbit, and a third including a walk on the moon. NASA has always been vague about the next launches, which should theoretically ensure a permanent base is established there. But according to internal documents, even the third has already been postponed until after 2025, among other things because new lunar spacesuits will not be ready. It is the slow progress of these and subsequent missions that now puts at the earliest the establishment of a “base camp” on the Moon in 2034.
The whole story of this return to the moon is a long series of delays. The SLS has been in the pipeline since 2011 and already in 2021 swallowed up to $14 billion. The Orion capsule, which will carry the astronauts, was originally supposed to be ready in 2017. The last member of this trio to return to the Moon, the station Moon Gate Which, from the orbit of the Moon, to serve as a platform for the Moon, and based on its construction on a series of regular flights, after the third launch. Finally, all this was imagined before the private company entered the scene and demonstrated its ability to design a rocket, capsule or lunar lander on its own.
Now these are two scenarios, the documents reveal, too. Engineers and administrators are trying to squeeze a tight budget: one trying to stick to regular launches – and struggling to ensure launches by year – and another targeting launches based on ship-ready hardware to build Moon Gate.
In the near future, if the reactor tests prove decisive, we could at least see the launch of “Artemis 1” later this year: the rocket will carry an Orion capsule, without a passenger, for a round trip to lunar orbit and an ocean landing, as in the days of capsules Apollo.
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