A significant component, he mentioned, can also be the delay attributable to the lawsuit over the company’s April collection of SpaceX to construct the Human landing System to take astronauts to the lunar floor, which was dismissed final week.

“We’ve lost nearly seven months in litigation, and that likely has pushed the first human landing likely to no earlier than 2025,” Nelson mentioned.

The announcement marks the primary acknowledgment that the aggressive timeline to land a crewed mission — which can embrace the primary girl — on the moon by 2024 set by the Trump administration was overly optimistic, given all of the elements which have to be developed and examined, in addition to the necessity for extra congressional buy-in.

It additionally signifies that the race in opposition to China to put down stakes for a extra everlasting presence on the lunar floor has heated up.

“The Chinese space program is increasingly capable of landing Chinese taikonauts much earlier than originally expected,” Nelson mentioned. “But whatever. We are going to be as aggressive as we can be in a safe and technically feasible way to beat out competitors with boots on the moon.”

“We are facing a very aggressive and good Chinese space program,” he added, citing Beijing’s new house station, the rover it landed on Mars and an upcoming robotic mission to return Martian samples. “They are going to the south pole of the moon. We have every reason to believe we have a competitor, a very aggressive competitor, in the Chinese. … We want to be there first.”

The price of the Orion capsule, constructed by Lockheed Martin, has additionally been revised from $6.7 billion to $9.three billion, Nelson mentioned.

“These updated cost and schedule estimates for the Orion … are the result of an increase in the scope and the delays caused by Covid,” he mentioned.

The unsure destiny of the HLS program can also be a significant trigger for delay.

Work is now resuming on the SpaceX design, however Congress desires NASA to additionally finance a competing one to guarantee it has an alternate.

“There will be the need of a significant increase in funding for the competition,” Nelson mentioned. “For a full-up competition,” NASA will want “$5.7 billion over about six years.”



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