After former US vice president Mike Pence launched the Artemis programme aimed at landing humans on the moon for the first time since the 1972 Apollo 17 mission, the programme ran into some obstacles. Of course, Elon Musk has stepped in to claim that he could pull off the task ‘probably sooner’ than the 2024 deadline!
NASA has started its @SpaceX lunar lander payments. Hopefully (and I trust) the SpaceX team will work fast. @elonmusk do you expect to have Lunar Starship ready to land humans in 2024 (despite other delays)? https://t.co/jWIl6Hhw20
— Everything Artemis (@artemis360_moon) August 15, 2021
NASA has begun funding SpaceX to develop the necessary technology to go through with the mission, despite an audit carried out by the Office of the Inspector General suggesting the deadline will be tough to reach.
The tweet confirms that NASA has started making payments from the $2.9 Billion contract signed with SpaceX; a contract that secured Musk a win over Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 15, 2021
Diving into the complications, the previously mentioned audit suggested ‘significant challenges’ for the programme to reach its potential, predicting a delay of up to 20 months for the ‘delivery for the planned design, verification, and testing quit, two qualification suits, a Demo suit, and two lunar flight suits.’ The audit links the delay to funding issues, COVID-19 impacts and technical drawbacks.
‘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.’
Starship Fully Stacked pic.twitter.com/Fs88RNsmfH
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 6, 2021
‘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.’
I must admit, Elon is not the type of guy to shy away from such a challenge, and I trust in him and his company to carry humanity to the moon!