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Science Committee Backs Artemis Despite Delays

JAN 22, 2024
The House Science Committee held a hearing to examine NASA’s recent decision to delay the next two launches in its Artemis program.
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Science Policy Reporter, FYI American Institute of Physics
Jacob Taylor headshot
Senior Editor for Science Policy, FYI American Institute of Physics
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The service module for Artemis II, a mission that will fly four around the Moon before returning to Earth. In January, NASA delayed the mission’s launch date to no earlier than September 2025.

(NASA)

The House Science Committee held a hearing last week to examine NASA’s recent decision to delay the next two launches in its Artemis program to return humans to the Moon’s surface. Committee members from both parties accepted the rationale for delaying the missions but were critical of NASA’s budgeting practices and sought greater clarity on its plans.

Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) also noted he intends to advance legislation this spring to comprehensively update NASA policy, which he said would be the first major update in seven years, if enacted. Witnesses for the hearing warned that there may be further delays to the program.

Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin was blunt in his criticism of Artemis, stating it is “excessively complex” and “unrealistically priced,” as well as “highly unlikely to be completed in a timely manner even if successful.” Citing the importance of the U.S. having a presence on the Moon, Griffin said it was “unacceptable” for the U.S. to fall behind China and called for a complete reworking of the Artemis program, rather than increased efforts to keep the existing program on track.

Various committee members noted the ambitions of the Chinese space program, with Lucas pointing out that the country is actively seeking international partners for its own lunar research station.

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