A NASA Office of Inspector General report has taken a look at the space agency’s Artemis program, noting that the effort faces significant challenges.

The NASA OIG report explains that current plans to launch Artemis I in 2021 and ultimately land astronauts on the Moon by the end of 2024 are “highly unlikely.”

NASA’s current plans for the first three missions of its Artemis program include exploration missions in 2021 (uncrewed), placing the Orion spacecraft in a lunar distant retrograde orbit, where it will travel 40,000 miles beyond the Moon, or a total of roughly 280,000 miles from Earth before returning home,  and 2023 (crewed) using the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, culminating in a mission landing astronauts on the surface of the Moon in late 2024.


Significant progress

OIG’s Artemis Status Update reports that NASA has made significant progress with the Artemis missions including stacking the SLS solid rocket boosters onto the mobile launcher, delivering Orion to Kennedy for final integration, and stabilizing future launch manifests.

Space Launch System (SLS) Credit: NASA/MSFC


Additionally, the OIG report points to the March 2021 second hot fire test of the SLS core stage outfitted with four RS-25 engines. In April 2021, NASA completed its analysis of over 8 minutes’ worth of data and found all primary test objectives were met. The SLS core stage is now being prepared for transport to Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Biden my time

“Although the new [Biden] Administration has publicly expressed support for the Artemis missions, it has not weighed in on the Agency’s current plans for a lunar landing by the end of 2024,” the OIG report points out.

Credit: NASA

“Nonetheless, achieving any date close to this ambitious goal—and reaching Mars in the 2030s—will require strong, consistent, sustained leadership from the President, Congress, and NASA, as well as stable and timely funding,” the OIG report adds.

Total costs

“With total costs for Artemis missions through fiscal year (FY) 2025 projected to reach $86 billion,” the OIG report underscores the fact that “NASA’s development of a deep-space human exploration capability to reach the Moon as a precursor to Mars is the Agency’s most ambitious and costliest ongoing activity.”

Credit: NASA











To read the full OIG report – Artemis Status Update – go to:


Leave a Reply