The United States intend to return its astronauts to the Moon as part of the Artemis program in 2025, Bill Nelson, a chief of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration said on Wednesday.
The first crewed flight under the Artemis program to the lunar orbit will take place no earlier than May 2024.
The first mission Artemis-1 is set to launch in February next year. NASA was supposed to launch the Orion spacecraft on the powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket without people aboard.
During this mission, Orion will fly around the Moon on a voyage lasting three weeks to test its systems.
The crewed mission Artemis-2 will be launched to the Moon in 2024 as the program also envisages the construction of a lunar station and preparation of conditions for the possible colonization of the Moon in the future.
"Returning to the Moon as quickly and safely as possible is an agency priority. However, with the recent lawsuit and other factors, the first human landing under Artemis is likely no earlier than 2025," he said.
He explained that the primary delay was caused by the commercial company Blue Origin's attempt to challenge NASA's award of a $ 2.9 billion contract to create SpaceX's lunar landing module.
"We lost almost six months," Nelson admitted.
All work under the contract was suspended during the Blue Origin claim. Last week, the court refused to consider the company's lawsuit against NASA.
The Artemis program was announced in September 2020 with the main goal to return an American astronaut to the lunar surface.