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NASA’s Artemis Moon Program Facing Rising Cost and Delays

NASA’s Artemis moon program is estimated to cost nearly $93 billion through 2025, NASA’s Office of Inspector General reported Monday. The first four flights of the program’s giant SLS booster and Orion crew capsule will run in the neighbourhood of $4.1 billion each.

The second in an ongoing series of audits examining the Artemis program concludes that the first unpiloted launch of a Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule on a flight beyond the moon and back will slip into the summer 2022 timeframe. The program’s second flight, a piloted flight around the moon, will slip into 2024 while the first moon landing mission likely will not get off the ground until 2026.

NASA’s announced a revised timeline last week, saying an unpiloted test flight of the moon rocket and Orion spaceship is expected as early as February, followed by a piloted flight around the moon no earlier than May 2024 and the first landing sometime in 2025.The OIG reported, legal challenges to a NASA’s contract awarded to SpaceX to build a new moon lander delayed work by six months and a follow-up lawsuit, both filed by rival Blue Origin, caused yet another delay.

On top of that, delays developing a planned lunar-orbit staging post known as Gateway will likely preclude the lunar outpost’s availability to provide communications and supplies for both the Orion and during NASA’s early moon landing missions.

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