NASA announced today that its plans to launch the highly anticipated Artemis II mission this year have been pushed back, with the new target launch window now being September 2025 at the earliest. This delay of the uncrewed flight test around the Moon will have a ripple effect, pushing back subsequent crewed Artemis missions, including the planned 2024 lunar landing.
The postponement of Artemis II, which will see four astronauts travel in the Orion spacecraft on a trip around the Moon, means vital data needed for future missions will be delayed. This includes Artemis III, which aims to return boots to the Moon and establish sustainable exploration. With each sequential mission relying on the last, Artemis III likely won’t launch until 2026, based on the updated timeline.
In a statement, NASA said the decision to delay Artemis II and subsequent missions is to allow more time for methodical testing and procedures, ensuring crew safety remains the top priority. While admittedly behind schedule, the agency believes careful execution now will pay dividends for the ambitious Artemis program and its goal of eventually sending humans to Mars.
“Artemis is a long-haul campaign requiring we get it right so we can safely explore the Moon and prepare for Mars,” said Amit Kshatriya, deputy associate administrator of Exploration Systems Development. “Crew safety is and will remain our number one priority.”
The delay will also allow lead contractor SpaceX more time to finish development of its Starship lunar lander, which will play an integral role in achieving the Artemis III lunar landing.