Moon landing postponed for safety reasons. Administrator Nelson: “The lives of our astronauts are the priority”
The return of theman on the moon. There NASA has in fact announced that the expected moon landing from the Artemis III mission there will not be before September 2026. As part of the space program to return to the Moon, the American space agency has also set a date of September 2025 for Artemis II, the first manned Artemis mission around the Moon, while we will have to wait the following year for Artemis III which plans to land the first astronauts near the lunar South Pole. Artemis IV, the first mission to the Gateway lunar space station, remains on schedule for 2028, the US space agency clarified.
“We are returning to the Moon in a way never seen before, and the safety of our astronauts is NASA’s top priority as we prepare for future Artemis missions,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “We have learned much since Artemis I. The success of these early missions builds on our commercial and international partnerships to broaden understanding of humanity’s place in our solar system. Artemis represents what we can accomplish as a nation and as a global coalition “When we aim for the difficult, together, we can achieve the great,” Nelson said.
Ensuring crew safety is the primary driver for changes to the Artemis II program. As the first flight test of Artemis with the crew aboard the Orion spacecraft, the mission will test the critical environmental control and life support systems needed to support the astronauts. NASA’s tests, the US space agency explained, to qualify the components to keep the crew safe and ensure the success of the mission have revealed problems that require further time to be resolved. Teams are solving a battery issue and addressing challenges with a circuit component responsible for air ventilation and temperature control.
Meanwhile, NASA’s investigation into the unexpected loss of pieces of carbon layer from the spacecraft’s heat shield during the Artemis I mission should be completed this spring. The teams took “a methodical approach,” NASA says, to understand the problem, including “extensive sampling of the heat shield, testing, and review of data from sensors and images.”
The new timeline for Artemis III aligns with the updated schedule for Artemis II, which NASA says ensures the agency can incorporate lessons learned from Artemis II into the next mission and recognizes the development challenges faced by NASA’s industrial partners . As each crewed Artemis mission “increases complexity and adds flight testing for new systems, the revised schedule will give vendors developing new capabilities – SpaceX for the human landing system and Axiom Space for next-generation spacesuits – additional time for testing and possible future refinements of the mission” added NASA.
Catherine Koerner, associate administrator, Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, explained that “we need to let the hardware talk to us so that crew safety guides our decision making. We will use the flight of Artemis II, and every flight that follows, to reduce risk for future missions to the Moon,” Koerner said. “We are solving challenges associated with initial capabilities and operations and are closer than ever to establishing sustainable exploration of Earth’s ‘nearest neighbor’ with Artemis,” she further added.
In addition to program updates for Artemis II and III, NASA is reviewing the schedule for the launch of the first integrated elements of the Gateway, previously planned for October 2025to provide additional development time and better align that launch with the Artemis IV mission in 2028. NASA also reported that it has asked both suppliers of the Artemis human landing system – SpaceX and Blue Origin – to begin applying knowledge acquired in the development of their systems as part of their contracts towards future variations to potentially deliver “large payloads” on subsequent missions.
“Artemis is a long-term exploration campaign to conduct scientific research on the Moon with astronauts and prepare for future human missions to Mars. That means we need to get it right as we develop and fly our core systems so we can carry out these missions safely,” said Amit Kshatriya, deputy associate administrator of Exploration Systems Development and director of NASA’s Moon to Mars program office at Headquarters. “The safety of the crew is and will remain our number one priority,” he said.
NASA leaders also stressed the importance of all partners delivering all parts of missions on time so the agency can maximize flight objectives. The US space agency regularly evaluates progress and timelines to ensure that the agency and its partners can successfully achieve exploration goals from the Moon to Mars. With Artemis, NASA will explore the Moon as never before with the Apollo missions and will learn to live and work far from Earth, from our home, and prepare for future human exploration of the Red Planet. NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, Earth exploration systems and the Orion spacecraft – along with the human landing system, next-generation spacesuits, the Gateway lunar space station and future rovers – form the foundation of NASA for deep space exploration. (by Andreana d’Aquino)