THE NEW SPACE RACE: The oracle who predicted SLS’s launch in 2023 has thoughts about Artemis III.

So when, I asked my source, “Do you think Artemis III will actually happen?”

“My starting point is 2028,” he replied.

This does not seem like all that unreasonable of a prediction. This is not your grandparents’ NASA, which delivered the Apollo Program on time and on budget. The 1960s were a very different era, and NASA was operating with an outsized budget, a geopolitical imperative, and a presidential mandate to hit the end of the decade for a human landing on the Moon. Today, the agency receives far less budget relative to federal spending, and the external forces driving NASA toward a deadline to land on the Moon have far less pressure behind them.

The bottom line is that there are no real consequences for missing 2025. Congress may huff and puff a bit, but in reality, Artemis is a solid choice for the space agency’s human exploration ambitions. Its international partners are behind the plan, and there are no great alternatives. Most people will just shrug and accept the delays.

Given the bloat and delay baked into most big space programs today, 2028 is actually a pretty reasonable estimate for Artemis III. It would probably be my “starting point,” too. But the space prophet didn’t stop there. “It may happen in 2028, but I’m not sure it will be on SLS,” he said.

Even assuming Artemis 1 launches successfully tomorrow (godspeed!), at this point I’d be surprised if anything else ever goes to space on SLS.