NASA Tracks for 2024 Artemis II Launch

Image: NASA

Artemis II crew, meet Orion.

NASA is gearing up for the second installment of its campaign to get humans back to the Moon. On Artemis II, four astronauts will ride the Orion capsule around the Moon to test its systems and pave the way for a landing on the next trip. Yesterday, that crew—made up of NASA’s Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Koch and CSA’s Jeremy Hansen—got their first in-person look at their home-away-from-Earth for the 10-day mission.

NASA officials confirmed yesterday that they’re still targeting a November 2024 launch for Artemis II, though there are a few weeks of risk baked into that target already.

Round three: Artemis II isn’t going to land on the Moon, but Artemis III will—if (and that’s a big if) NASA’s contractors are ready to fly by the targeted launch date in December 2025.

  • Artemis III intends to use Starship to land on the lunar surface, but the agency has doubts about whether the Human Landing System (HLS) will be ready in time.
  • HLS also requires an in-orbit fuel transfer, which has never been done before.
  • The new spacesuits designed for the program could also hold up the mission.

If those systems aren’t ready, NASA is prepared to “end up flying a different mission,” Artemis program head Jim Free said yesterday. 

“What we should do is expect to fly safely and advance our cause of understanding, to do our science for the cause of understanding of our vehicles and systems,” Free said.