Elon Musk reckons he can ‘probably’ land humans on the Moon before 2024.
Former US vice president Mike Pence originally set the 2024 date for NASA’s Artemis program, set to put humans on the surface of the Moon for the first time since December 1972 on the Apollo 17 mission.
However, amid recent complications with next-generation spacesuit technology, that goal is ‘no longer feasible.’ Although, Musk thinks he can pull it off even quicker.
Responding to a tweet asking whether SpaceX’s Lunar Starship would be ready for 2024 despite delays, Musk wrote: ‘Probably sooner.’
This comes after the space firm’s $2.9 billion contract with NASA to construct a human landing system for the lunar mission, beating Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
However, off the back of protests filed with the US Government Accountability Office by SpaceX competitors, its payments from NASA have been somewhat delayed. So far, it has received around 14.5% of its total award amount of around $3 billion.
The audit conducted by the Office of the Inspector General, revealed ‘significant challenges’ for NASA to reach the 2024 goal, including ‘approximately a 20-month delay in delivery for the planned design, verification, and testing suit, two qualification suits, an ISS Demo suit, and two lunar flight suits.’
These delays have been attributed to ‘funding shortfalls, COVID-19 impacts, and technical challenges’, and it’s unlikely the suits will be ready before April 2025.
‘We reported in 2017 that despite spending nearly $200 million on extravehicular spacesuit development over the previous nine-year period, the Agency remained years away from having a flight-ready spacesuit to use on exploration missions,’ it reads.
‘Since our 2017 report, NASA has spent an additional $220 million – for a total of $420 million – on spacesuit development. Going forward, the Agency plans to invest approximately $625.2 million more, bringing the total spent… to over $1 billion through fiscal year 2025,’ it adds.
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CreditsOffice of the Inspector General
Office of the Inspector General