Back in 2019, Vice President Mike Pence announced that US astronauts would walk on the lunar surface within a mere 5 years through NASA’s ongoing Artemis program.
“Since the end of Apollo 11, we’ve forged incredible breakthroughs in our technology that have allowed us to go further, more safely in space than ever before,” he said.
“We have the technology to go the moon and renew American leadership in human space exploration.”
“Just as the United States was the first nation to reach the moon in the 20th century, so too will we be the first nation to return astronauts to the Moon in the 21st century.”
But with the 2024 deadline fast approaching, just how viable is it that this can still be accomplished ?
According to a recent audit report by NASA’s office of inspector general, the agency “will be hard-pressed” to put humans on the Moon “any date close to this ambitious goal” without “strong, consistent, sustained leadership from the president… as well as stable and timely funding.”
Plans to place a ‘Lunar Gateway’ outpost in orbit around the Moon are also looking unlikely to come to fruition in time for the mission due to “further schedule delays and cost increases.”
It has also been speculated that upcoming US President Joe Biden could reprioritize climate change research, thus diverting funds and resources away from the Artemis program.
“Over the past decade, our oversight work has found NASA consistently struggling to address each of these significant issues and the Artemis mission’s accelerated timetable will likely further exacerbate these challenges,” the report reads.
As things stand, it will be surprising if NASA does manage to land humans on the Moon so soon.