There's a good chance they'll be able to keep it, too.

Launch Date

NASA has reinforced the launch date for its crewed Artemis II Moon mission — that is, if they're able to hold themselves to it.

In a press conference held earlier on Tuesday, agency representatives said that everything they've learned during the first, uncrewed iteration of the Artemis mission is putting NASA on track to send astronauts up to the Moon for the first time in more than half a century in roughly 18 months.

As Ars Technica's Eric Berger noted on Twitter, Jim Free, the associate administrator for NASA's Exploration Systems Development said that the agency "is still targeting, approximately, 'November 2024' for Artemis II."


Those comments seemed to be echoed by quotes from the Tuesday presser as transcribed by Orlando's WKMG-TV, in which NASA officials boasted about how well things have gone for the historically touch-and-go Artemis program since it launched its first un-crewed Orion capsule in November 2022.

In particular, the intense charring of the Orion capsule upon its reentry has, per project manager Howard Hu, helped NASA recalibrate the capsule to be better equipped once it has humans on board.

While the capsule's heat shields were obviously built to withstand the uber-high temperatures of reentering Earth's atmosphere, the amount of material that burned up — which is, per Hu, still under investigation — seemed to take NASA by surprise.

All said, things have gone much more smoothly for the Artemis mission since NASA was able to get its initial uncrewed launch up and running late last year. But as spacewatchers know, a lot can go wrong between now and a planned launch date.

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