The Artemis project is due to reach a cost of around $93 billion by 2025 by the time astronauts return to the moon in 2025, with each successful test launch costing $4.1 billion. And that $93 billion estimate is reliant on NASA getting its first uncrewed mission off the ground this year.
The Artemis mission has a goal of returning humans to the moon before 2025. There have been numerous unforeseen delays to the mission within a short time frame, but despite this, Nasa is still optimistic that we will see Artemis 1 leave Earth before the end of this year.
Plans are for a launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. This is the third delay that the Artemis has seen, with the other two delays due to leaks and other faults.
After a decade of development and testing alongside delays, Nasa finally had a launch date: September 27th. The U.S government agency originally had a 2-hour window to get Artemis 1 off the ground. Unfortunately, an unforeseeable tropical storm (Storm Ian) rolled in, causing teams involved in the launch to stand down due to safety concerns.
The potential backup launch date of October 2nd is out of the question if NASA has to bring the rocket into storage due to weather conditions. Wind gusts above 85mph could damage the rocket while it is on the launchpad, and repairs may take even longer than the delay from storing Artemis.
If Nasa chooses to not bring Artemis 1 into storage and instead leaves the rocket on its pad where it currently sits, an October launch is possible if no damage is sustained to the rocket. Nasa says they are monitoring the unfolding situation with Storm Ian and they are ready to make a decision fairly soon on whether to relocate Artemis 1 or let the rocket brave the winds.
NASA’s new sights
No matter what delays it may face, this uncrewed Artemis 1 test flight will signal a major turning point for NASA. After decades of focusing on low-Earth orbit, space shuttles, and the international space station, we can see development and growth centred on two goals: returning to the moon and sending humans to Mars.NASA hasn’t abandoned their current projects, however, as they have plenty of faith that commercial space industries will continue to grow and develop the next space station after the ISS makes its final journey back to earth sometime early in 2030.
What happens next?
Since Nasa is looking out for the safety of their teams, employees, and associates, they called off the launch. This potentially delays the first uncrewed launch until at least November of this year. The Artemis 1 will either remain on the launchpad or be rolled back into storage, which takes upwards of 2 hours. This launch is one of the first steps towards returning humans to the moon. Research conducted during this mission will help efforts towards getting humans to Mars and beyond.