Nasa's Space Launch System (SLS) in Block 1 crew vehicle configuration. This rocket will carry astronauts to the Moon via the Artemis missions.
NASA chief Bill Nelson said Tuesday that the United States would send a crewed mission on the Moon "no sooner than 2025", officially pushing back the launch date by at least one year.
The Artemis program was launched by Donald Trump's administration with a target date of 2024.
However, the program has been plagued by delays in development, from the vehicles to the required space suits.
NASA won a court case last week brought by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, which sued Elon Musk's SpaceX after losing a contract for a lander.
Nelson stated that "we lost almost seven months in litigation" and that this likely has pushed for the first human landing to not earlier than 2025.
Nelson stated that NASA is making steady progress. He cited the fact that Orion's crew capsule has been placed atop the Space Launch System rocket at Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
NASA plans to launch Artemis 1, an uncrewed mission in February 2022 and Artemis 2 in 2024.
Separately, SpaceX must perform an uncrewed landing in order to test the lunar Starship rocket before it is used for crewed landing.
Nelson stated that NASA had committed to Orion's total development costs of $9.3 Billion, an increase from the $6.7 billion estimate.
Bill Nelson, Administrator of Nasa, speaks during a visit at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center.
China enters new space race
He warned Congress that more funding was needed to meet these new timelines.
He said, "We face a very aggressive Chinese space program."
"It's NASA's position, and I believe it's the United States government that we want to be the first back on Moon after half a hundred years."
China is the second-largest country in the world. It has invested billions in its military-run space program with hopes of establishing a permanent crewed space station by 2022.
It has sent two rovers to Moon, one to the far side, already and it is planning to send its first crewed lunar mission in 2029.
Humans last reached the Moon in 1972, when America's Apollo 17 mission was launched.
NASA claims that the Artemis program will feature the first woman and the first person of color to step foot on the surface Earth's natural satellite.
The agency plans to create a permanent habitat on the Moon, and then use the lessons from long-term expeditions there to design a crewed mission for Mars in the 2030s.
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(c) 2021 AFP