WAILEA, Hawaii — Members of a House committee expressed skepticism about NASA’s reliance on commercial launch vehicles to carry out human lunar landings by 2024 rather than an upgraded version of the Space Launch System.
The Sept. 18 hearing by the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee on NASA’s exploration programs left members of both parties with doubts that with NASA’s current approach, and the cost and schedule problems programs like the Space Launch System and Orion have suffered, it could achieve the goal of returning humans to the surface of the moon by 2024.
The agency’s witness at the hearing, Ken Bowersox, the acting associate administrator for human exploration and operations, contributed to that skepticism. “How confident are you that we’ll have boots on the moon by 2024?” Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) asked him during the hearing.
“How confident? I wouldn’t bet my oldest child’s upcoming birthday present or anything like that,” Bowersox responded. “We’re working towards it as hard as we can.”
NASA faced criticism from some members because of the architecture of the Artemis program. NASA plans to use commercial launch vehicles for elements of the lunar Gateway as well as lunar modules, largely reserving the SLS for ...