Full moon behind the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida
Photo: Joe Skipper / REUTERS
The manned moon landing planned for 2025 as part of NASA's Artemis 3 mission may have to be postponed. In order to bring people to the moon, certain elements would have to be present, in particular the landing system, on which the US space company SpaceX is currently still working, said Nasa representative Jim Free on Tuesday (local time) in front of journalists.
If it's not ready in time, "maybe we'll fly another mission," he added. In order to transport the astronauts to the moon in the course of the Artemis 3 mission, a lunar module from Elon Musk's SpaceX company is to be used.
Free added that NASA has paid a visit to SpaceX's Starbase facility in Texas and will share the information collected there with the public as soon as possible.
As part of its Artemis program, the U.S. space agency is planning several space missions in the coming years. In addition to a manned moon landing, these also provide for the development of technologies for a trip to Mars.
The Artemis 3 mission was supposed to bring astronauts back to the moon for the first time in more than 50 years. During the Artemis 1 mission, an unmanned Orion space capsule orbited the moon last November and December. The follow-up mission, Artemis 2, is designed to put astronauts into lunar orbit.
The first manned moon landing was achieved by the USA in 1969 with the Apollo 11 mission. The last human moon landing took place in 1972 with the Apollo 17 mission.
Russia and China are working on missions
Russia also wants to go to the moon again – and on Friday launch the unmanned space probe "Luna 25", the first mission of its kind in almost 50 years. Luna 25« is part of the Russian lunar program. The plan is to build a space station on Earth's satellite by 2040. Russia is thus building on its Soviet "Luna" program, in which space probes also brought moon rocks back to Earth. The last time Moscow sent the Luna 1976 probe to the moon was in 24.
"We wish them all the best," NASA chief Bill Nelson said at a press conference on Tuesday. "As you know, we have a constructive relationship with them." Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there have been strong tensions between Russia and the United States. However, both sides always emphasise that cooperation in space will continue to function.
With regard to manned moon landings, however, the United States is further ahead than Russia and also than China, Nelson emphasized. "I don't think many people would say that Russia is ready to land cosmonauts on the moon in the time frame we're talking about – or that China would be."