The Artemis 1 flight was meant to happen years ago. The program is really expensive and the SLS is not reusable. Other companies like SpaceX or Blue Origin are doing things in a much cheaper and faster way. If Artemis 1 fails, will it be the end of the Artemis program?

  • $\begingroup$ Next Launch date: Sept. 27, 2022 Do you have a source for "Currently the Artemis program has been delayed for years"? $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Sep 22 at 8:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say. I meant that Artemis 1 was suppose to launch years ago. $\endgroup$ Sep 22 at 8:45
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    $\begingroup$ Artemis encompasses more than just SLS. Orion, Lunar Gateway, a contract to SpaceX for the landings, a spacesuit contract... even Congress doesn't usually close the valve on that many money pipes based on a single event $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Sep 22 at 8:50
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    $\begingroup$ Is there a non opinion way to answer this? If it fails because someone has run a very creative fraud and the thing on the pad is found to be made of cardboard then program will be wound up - if it fails because of some unconsidered edge case then they will just move the mission to the next set of hardware. $\endgroup$ Sep 22 at 8:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe, today is 10/11, and Artemis still hasn’t launched $\endgroup$ Oct 11 at 13:48

3 Answers 3


Disclaimer: Opinion

Personally, I think the Artemis program, or more specifically the "Artemis" Brand, has grown To Big To Fail. It's not just SLS: its also Orion, SpaceX's Lander, Lunar Gateway (the next ISS), CLPS (adjacently), etc, and has deep international and congressional ties.

If "Artemis" is not successful, then NASA is in big trouble because they've been steadily losing credibility since the end of the Shuttle Program, if not since Apollo (both locally and globally). In part, this is due to politics and the ever-shifting goalposts provided by the various past presidents, but it basically boils down to the fact that very few of the grand "flagship" promises NASA made have been accomplished. The Constellation program never captured an asteroid, there haven't been any manned moon landings, and if you want to be pessimistic, the post-Apollo era of NASA has been defined by promising the stars but only delivering low orbit.

This is why I think that so much of NASA's credibility is tied up in Artemis. Due to both the large Artemis PR push and the historic context of the agency, many people--both industry experts and the public alike--feel like this is a "make it or break" / "Now or Never" / "Money where your mouth is" -moment. There's a general sentiment that if NASA can't fulfill the grand promise this time ("Next man and first woman on the moon"), a serious and fundamental reevaluation of the agency will be required.

Now, SLS blowing up or otherwise failing would be a huge hit, and this is why NASA is being so cautious, but ultimately NASA needs to make some form of "Artemis" work. Even if every single SLS ends up blowing up, I think there is enough inertia behind the program and the "brand" that they will persevere.

  • $\begingroup$ that is true. Unfortunately, all too true. None of the "flagship" class rocket past the STS (space shuttle) have really delivered on their word. Even the shuttle itself had grand plans that were never fulfilled. Personally, I have more confidence in SLS than I did in constellation. $\endgroup$ Oct 13 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ @ColonelCornieliusCornwall Constellation was a program akin to Artemis, not really comparable to SLS itself; arguably the SLS, along with Orion, is a survivor of Constellation, as a version of the Ares V design. $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Oct 14 at 5:42

It would most likely not mean the immediate end of the program. Consider that the Space Shuttle program was restarted after both crashes. My sense is that there is an understanding that the risk is high, and all the people who have supported it, including members of Congress, would like to be able to say that the support led to something.

The Columbia disaster did limit later uses of the Shuttle, but that was because it exhibited a particular risk that NASA did not feel it could sufficiently alleviate. And, in any case, the Shuttle system was nearing the end of its design lifetime.

It's also worth keeping in mind that multiple missions are planned. I assume contracts have been signed to provide multiple vehicles. They would hardly be in a position of starting from scratch.


No one will really ever know unless it fails.

Here's what I mean. I could see many different outcomes coming from a failure. Depending on how confident we are in the technology being re-developed, we could re-build everything from the start. However, if we're running low in the funds department and congress/NASA doesn't believe it can be done, then yes, trashing the project is an option.

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    $\begingroup$ If the answer you are writing says you do not know the answer, you should not write an answer. $\endgroup$ Oct 10 at 23:48
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    $\begingroup$ what do you mean about the technology being re-developed? The technology, production lines, lots of the hardware for subsequent launches all already exist $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Oct 11 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble I disagree, though only weakly in this case. If an "I don't know" answer can argue why nobody can really know the answer, it's an answer alright. And this does indeed point out that it depends on the whims of congress. $\endgroup$ Oct 11 at 10:33

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