The 2024 space flight is looking to be in jeopardy
The last humans to visit the lunar surface or venture anywehfd beyond low-orbit Earth were Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan for the Apollo 17 mission. Their lunar module Challenger lifted off from the Taurus-Littrow valley on the moon, and splashed down in the Pacific five days later.
Right now, the international Artemis program helmed by NASA is looking to put humans back into the moon by 2024. But by the way things are, this has a chance of not happening.
Vulnerable space programs
If we look at the history of space missions, we can see just how intricate everything is, and one mistake can cause a cascade of failures. It requires years of planning and development, and involves several administrations working together.
After Apollo 17, NASA had planned to conduct more lunar missions, including a flyby of Venus. But budget cuts and the Skylab project during the 1970s prevented them from doing so.
How the presidents reacted
In 1989, President George H.W. Bush inaugurated the Space Exploration Initiative, which included a construction of the Freedom space station. This was later renamed as the International Space Station, which aimed to return humans to the moon before taking them to Mars. It was believed to take place over 30 years and had a budget of $500 billion. This never took place and the Clinton administration cancelled it in 1996.
NASA started the Constellation program to complete the mission in 2004, but the Augustine Commission established by President Obama in 2010 found out that the funding was low and a mission to Mars wouldn’t take place with current technology, and was cancelled.
In December 2017, President Trump signed “Space Policy Directive 1,” which reoriented NASA to a lunar landing by 2024. The Biden administration supported it as well, but the recent delay caused by the pandemic and engineering concerns can push it back. A delay in more than one year can move the project beyond President Biden’s first term in office.
But if the current Artemis 3 schedule goes in a timely manner, humans can go to the moon in 2024.
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