NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told lawmakers today that the first launch of the heavy-lift Space Launch System was “definitely achievable by 2021,” seemingly signaling a shift in the plan for a 2020 maiden launch.
Bridenstine’s testimony to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation came just a day after he wrote in a blog post that NASA was “staying on schedule for flying the Artemis 1 mission with our Orion spacecraft on the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket next year, and for sending the first crewed mission, Artemis 2, to the lunar vicinity by 2022.”
Artemis 1, previously known as Exploration Mission 1 or EM-1, would launch an uncrewed Orion capsule on a test flight looping around the moon. Artemis 2 would trace a similar course with a crew on board, in preparation for sending two astronauts to the moon’s surface in 2024 via a yet-to-be-built Gateway space outpost in lunar orbit..
Today, Bridenstine said Artemis 2 was scheduled for the 2022-2023 time frame. He stuck with the 2024 date for the lunar landing.