NASA’s mission to land humans on the Moon has suffered a setback. The space agency has delayed the mission by a year. The agency said that it was forced to push back its goal to land humans on the lunar surface from 2024 to 2025. NASA wanted to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024. The latest decision to delay the landing is believed to be influenced by the legal challenges that the agency is faced with and several other factors. Accordingly, the crewed lunar landing as a part of the Artemis program will now take place in 2025. The agency was embroiled in a controversy over selecting lunar lander prototypes. The prototype aims to demonstrate a modern lunar lander system for NASA’s Artemis program.
NASA had planned to select two lunar lander prototypes for the mission. However, it picked only one. This led to a controversy over its selection procedure. Private aerospace company Blue Origin filed a lawsuit against the agency’s selection criteria. NASA had picked SpaceX’s prototype over Blue Origin’s. The decision was taken after Congress decided to cut the agency’s funding. Blue Origin in April petitioned the Government Accountability Office. NASA was then forced to put the SpaceX contract on hold. The GAO later squashed Blue Origin’s challenge as it noted that NASA followed all the procedures during the selection, and it holds the right regarding the awarding of the contract.
Blue Origin then filed a lawsuit against the space agency. However, the company lost out on its lawsuit and NASA’s selection of SpaceX was upheld. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said that the human lunar landing is not possible before 2025 because of the lawsuit and other factors. He said that the agency has resumed conversations with SpaceX on taking the contract forward. Before NASA lands humans on the Moon, it will launch two flight tests. While Artemis-I will be an uncrewed mission and Artemis-II will be a crewed flight. According to Nelson, the agency is planning around 10 landings on the Moon. It wants to set up a base on the Moon that will pave the way for a crewed mission to Mars.