US must beat China back to the moon, Congress tells NASA

Artist’s illustration of NASA astronauts near the moon’s south pole, a region thought to be rich in water ice, a key resource that could help humanity extend its footprint out into the solar system. The delays in NASA’s Artemis moon program are making some members of Congress nervous. Last week, NASA announced that it’s now targeting September 2025 for its Artemis 2 mission, which will send four astronauts around the moon , and September 2026 for Artemis 3 , which will put boots on Earth’s nearest neighbor for the first time in more than half a century. These new Artemis launch dates represent delays of about a year for each flight. The rightward push was spurred by the need to conduct more studies of key Artemis hardware, such as the heat shield of NASA’s Orion crew capsule, which didn’t perform quite as expected during the uncrewed Artemis 1 mission in late 2022. The U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a hearing about the new Artemis plan today (Jan. 17), and multiple members voiced concern about the slippage. “I remind my colleagues that we are not the only country interested in sending humans to the moon,” Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) said in his opening remarks. “The Chinese Communist Party is actively soliciting international partners for a lunar mission — a lunar research station — and has stated its ambition to have human astronauts on the surface by 2030 ,” he added. “The country that lands first will have the ability to set a precedent for whether future lunar activities are conducted with openness and transparency, or in a more restricted manner.” Related: We’re in a space race.’ NASA chief says US ‘better watch out’ for China We need to restart [Artemis], not keep it […]

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By Donato