December 2025 “is our current manifest date, but with the difficulties that SpaceX has had, I think that’s really, really concerning,” Jim Free, NASA’s associate administrator for exploration systems development, said on Wednesday (June 7) during a joint meeting of the U.S. National Academies’ Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board and its Space Studies Board.
“So, you can think about that slipping probably into '26,” he added.
It’s unclear when Starship will fly again; several boxes must be checked first. For example, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is still investigating the launch mishap, with SpaceX’s help. And a coalition of environmental groups is suing the FAA, claiming the agency didn’t properly assess the damage Starship launches could inflict on the surrounding ecosystem.
A relatively quick return to flight would be necessary for Artemis 3 to have any chance of meeting the 2025 target, for, as Free noted, SpaceX must conduct a number of Starship launches before the vehicle starts carrying Artemis astronauts.
NASA, meet FAA; FAA, meet NASA.
“We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.”
― Wernher von Braun