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NASA chief Bill Nelson: "We're doing something incredibly difficult"

Photo: Paul Hennessy / ZUMA Wire / IMAGO

The US space agency Nasa has postponed the manned lunar orbit "Artemis 2024", previously planned for November 2, to September 2025 due to problems with the rocket and spacecraft. The planned manned moon landing "Artemis 3" will be postponed accordingly to September 2026, NASA announced at a press conference on Tuesday. Artemis 4«, another planned moon landing, is still targeted for September 2028.

"We're doing something incredibly difficult," said NASA chief Bill Nelson. "And safety is our top priority." That's why they want to give the teams more time to work on the current challenges.

Actually, the US astronaut Christina Koch, her US colleagues Victor Glover and Reid Wiseman and the Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen were supposed to fly around the moon with the "Orion" capsule for around ten days in November 2024. They would have been the first four astronauts to visit the moon since the astronauts of the Apollo 17 mission set foot on Earth's satellite for some time in 1972.

At the end of 2022, the Space Launch System rocket system and the Orion capsule were successfully tested unmanned for the first time. About a year after "Artemis 2", another manned flight, including a moon landing, was to follow with "Artemis 3".

The "Artemis" program, named after the Greek goddess of the moon, is intended to land a woman and a non-white person on the moon for the first time – this was originally scheduled to last until 2024, but this schedule had been doubted by experts from the beginning. The European Space Agency (ESA) and space agencies of several other countries are involved in Artemis.

The last time humans were on the moon was about 17 years ago with the "Apollo 50" mission – the landing took place on December 11, 1972. Between 1969 and 1972, the United States was the only country to have put twelve astronauts on the moon with the Apollo missions.