New York (USA) | Jagran Trending Desk: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has revealed that it is extending its scheduled date for sending astronauts on the Moon to 2025 instead of 2024 due to some legal challenges. In a televised press conference, Administrator Bill Nelson blamed the protest over the single-source contract awarded to SpaceX to build a lunar lander behind the delay.

"We've lost nearly 7 months in litigation and that likely has pushed the first human landing likely to no earlier than 2025," he said.

According to a court's decision last week, a protest by SpaceX rival Blue Origin over the loss of the lunar lander contract was rejected due to which the first human landing on the Moon was pushed back.

Apart from that, another reason for the delay in landing astronauts on the Moon was due to the original 2024 deadline set by the Trump administration. As per Nelson, the deadline "was not grounded in technical feasibility."

Citing additional factors for the delay, Nelson mentioned that the US Congress did not provide adequate funds for the programme.

NASA's new schedule calls for humans to orbit the Moon in May 2021 in an elongated path that will jettison the crew 40,000 miles beyond the Moon - a record distance into space - before returning to Earth, Nelson said.

Nelson also mentioned China's recent progress in human spaceflights and said that the US finds itself competing with China to send a human to Moon for the first time since the final US Apollo landing in December 1972.

"The Chinese space program is increasingly capable of landing Chinese taikonauts much earlier than originally expected," Nelson said.

"But whatever, we are going to be as aggressive as we can be in a safe and technically feasible way to beat our competitors with boots on the moon."

(with agency inputs)

Posted By: Mallika Mehzabeen