NASA pushes back crewed Moon landing to 2025 or later.

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Nasa’s new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), in its Block 1 crew vehicle
 configurationthat will send astronauts to the Moon on the Artemis missions.

On Tuesday, the United States will send a crewed mission to the Moon “no early than 2025,” NASA head Bill Nelson told reporters, formally putting back the launch by at least a year.

When the Artemis program was first announced under the Trump administration, 2024 was chosen as the end date.

But the program has subsequently experienced various development setbacks ranging from its vehicles to the spacesuits necessary.

Last week, NASA won a court battle filed by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, which sued after losing a lander contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

“We wasted about seven months in litigation, and that likely has put the first human arrival likely to no sooner than 2025,” Nelson said on a teleconference.

“The good news is that NASA is making strong progress,” said Nelson, emphasizing the fact that the mission’s Orion crew capsule has since last week been placed atop the massive Space Launch System rocket at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA is aiming for the first uncrewed mission, Artemis 1, in February 2022, and Artemis 2, the first crewed mission that will execute a flyby of the Moon, in 2024.

For the Starship rocket’s lunar version to be tested before it is utilized for the crewed landing, SpaceX must first perform an unmanned landing.

Nelson indicated NASA was committed to a total development cost for Orion of $9.3 billion, spanning the period between 2012 and 2024, up from the prior estimate of $6.7 billion.

The new space race with China.

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Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson speaks during a visit to the National Aeronautics and
 Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

But he cautioned additional financing would be necessary from Congress to achieve the revised timetables, adding: “The Chinese space program is growing capable of landing Chinese taikonauts considerably sooner than initially planned.”

“We are confronting a very ambitious and excellent Chinese space program,” he said.

“It’s the attitude of NASA, and I think the United States government, that we want to be there first back on the Moon after half a century.”

The world’s second-largest economy, China, has spent billions on its military-run space program, with expectations of building a permanently crewed space station by 2022.

It has previously dispatched rovers to the Moon, including one to the far side, and aims for a first crewed lunar mission by 2029.

The Apollo 17 mission of the United States in 1972 was the final time humans set foot on the Moon.

NASA claims the Artemis program will involve the first woman and first person of color to step foot on the surface of Earth’s natural satellite.

NASA hopes to create a prolonged residence on the Moon and utilize the lessons acquired from protracted missions to design a crewed mission to Mars by the 2030s.

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