Artist’s illustration of NASA’s Space Launch System megarocket launching the Orion crew capsule. Image credit: NASA
NASA has yet to set a launch date for the first test flight of its long-delayed Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket, which the agency plans to use to send astronauts to the lunar surface in 2024. And it looks like more delays could be right around the corner.
Although NASA said this summer that its new rocket should finally lift off by the end of 2020, the first mission may slip to the middle of 2021, Ken Bowersox, NASA’s acting associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said in a presentation at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS) on 10 October 2019.
That mission, known as Artemis 1, will send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a trip around the Moon. Following that initial test flight, NASA aims to launch Artemis 2 — the first human mission of NASA’s Artemis program — in 2022. That mission will fly astronauts on a loop around the Moon, but they won’t land there just yet.
In 2024, NASA plans to land the first woman and the next man on the lunar surface for the Artemis ...