Americans accelerate to the moon, but not before 2024

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They did it ! This October 10, 2024, two American astronauts set foot on the moon for the first time since 1972. On the big screen of the White House, Jeanette Epps, the first woman on the Moon, plants the American flag in a general ovation. “Good job, Jim! “Says President Joe Biden to NASA chief Jim Bridenstine. A few meters away, the two New Space enemy brothers, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, pose together for posterity, their smile a little frozen. At the express request of NASA, the bosses of Blue Origin and SpaceX had to join forces to develop the lunar landing module, a key element in the success of the Artemis 3 mission.

Nice story? Certainly. But this scenario is likely to remain in the realm of science fiction. The objective of the Artemis program, a return to the Moon for American astronauts in 2024, seems a little more difficult to achieve every day. NASA had organized to return to lunar soil in 2028, an already tight schedule. Announced in early 2019, Donald Trump’s decision to advance the deadline by four years, to end with a fanfare for a possible second term, has put the American space agency in overheating. In recent months, it has multiplied contracts with manufacturers, on the lunar lander or on the service of the Lunar Gateway, the future station in orbit around the Moon. But many do not believe it. “I don’t think they can do it in 2024, and they won’t do it in 2028 either if they keep re-studying it all the time,” said former astronaut Jim Voss on May 14 during a NASA expert committee meeting.

Delays and overruns

The American agency staunchly defends its three-step plan. The first Artemis 1 mission, scheduled for the end of 2021, must be a test flight of the giant SLS rocket and the Orion space capsule, with no humans on board. Artemis 2, scheduled for 2023, is to take four astronauts for a brief overview of the L[…]

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