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We got a leaked look at NASA’s future Moon missions—and likely delays

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We got a leaked look at NASA’s future Moon missions—and likely delays
A rendering of SpaceX's Starship lander on the surface of the Moon.

Enlarge / A rendering of SpaceX’s Starship lander on the surface of the Moon.

NASA

For several years now, NASA has publicly discussed the initial phase of its Artemis Moon program. These first three missions, to be conducted over the next four or five years, are steps toward establishing a human presence on the Moon.

The Artemis I mission should launch later this year, testing NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and boosting the Orion spacecraft into lunar orbit. The second mission, Artemis II, will more or less be a repeat, only with four humans on board Orion. Then comes the big test, Artemis III, which will send two humans to the Moon and back during the middle of this decade.

Beyond these missions, however, NASA has been vague about the timing of future Artemis missions to the Moon, even as some members of Congress have pressed for more details. Now, we may know why. Ars Technica has obtained internal planning documents from the space agency showing an Artemis mission schedule and manifest for now through fiscal year 2034.

At present NASA has its baseline plan for Artemis, which is shown below. But NASA has also developed at least two “in-guide” schedule options, which agency planners believe are achievable with anticipated budgets, the documents show. These revised schedules indicate that NASA planners do not believe the baseline plan will be achievable on time or within budget.

One of the internal schedules, labeled “cadence,” prioritizes launching regularly. The other, labeled “content,” prioritizes launching only when the most meaningful payloads are ready. Combined, they reveal that NASA is struggling to cram an ambitious exploration plan into a finite budget. The result is a slow-moving lunar program that, in large part, fails to deliver on the goals of the US National Space Policy.

In addition to its baseline schedule, NASA is considering two additional

Enlarge / In addition to its baseline schedule, NASA is considering two additional “in-guide” schedules for the Artemis Program. They are reproduced here from internal documents.

Ars Technica/NASA

In response to questions about the internal schedules, NASA spokeswoman Kathryn Hambleton said, “NASA is pressing ahead with its baseline plans for Artemis missions beyond Artemis III. The agency routinely evaluates alternate architectures as a prudent part of programmatic planning.”

Although NASA can say it is sticking with the “baseline” plan for Artemis, this notional timeline is almost certainly unattainable. Already, the agency is looking at moving the Artemis III mission beyond 2025 due to a number of factors, including a lack of Moon-ready spacesuits. Moreover, the preparation of revised schedules strongly suggests that NASA is ready for inevitable delays.

Here are some of the key issues raised by the revised schedules, which are reproduced above from the original NASA documents to protect our sources.

  • There are huge gaps between missions. To close one three-year gap, NASA is considering the creation of an “Artemis III.5” mission that would require the agency to procure a fourth interim upper stage and delay development of other key programs.
  • The slow progression in missions puts off development of a “base camp” on the Moon for years, with the earliest emplacement of a lunar surface habitat not coming until 2034.
  • NASA will spend the next 10 years focused on assembling a small space station in lunar orbit, rather than building up capabilities on the Moon’s surface.

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are
A player shouldering the ball



(Image credit: EA)

FIFA 23 might be the best game soccer game yet for terrible sports fans, as it lets you turn off commentary that criticizes your bad playing.

Now that the early access FIFA 23 release time has passed, EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can hop into the game ahead of its full release. But as Eurogamer (opens in new tab) spotted, they’ll find a peculiar option waiting for them.

FIFA 23 includes a toggle to turn off ‘Critical Commentary’. The setting lets you silence all negative in-match comments made about your technique, so you can protect your precious ego even when you miss an open goal or commit an obvious foul. The more positive commentary won’t be affected. 

Spare your feelings

A player dribbling the ball in FIFA 23

(Image credit: EA)

The feature looks tailored toward children and new players, who don’t want to have their confidence wrecked within mere minutes of picking up the controller. But even experienced players who just so happen to be terrible at the game might benefit.

It’s not perfect, though. According to Eurogamer, the feature didn’t seem to work during a FIFA Ultimate Team Division Rivals match, with critical comments slipping through the filter. Still, who hasn’t benefited from a light grilling every now and then?

Polite commentary isn’t the only new addition in FIFA 23. It’s the first game in the series to include women’s club football teams, and fancy overhauled animations that take advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S’s new-gen hardware. EA will be hoping to end on a high, as FIFA 23 will be the last of its soccer games to release with the official FIFA licence.

If disabling critical commentary doesn’t improve your soccer skills, maybe building a squad of Marvel superheroes will. Although you might not do much better with Ted Lasso wandering the pitch.

FIFA 23 is set to fully release this Friday, September 30.

Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games. 

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch
The backs of the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro



(Image credit: Google)

We’re starting to hear more and more Google Pixel 7 leaks, with the launch of the phone just a week away, but tech fans might be getting a lot of déjà vu, with the leaks all listing near-identical specs to what we heard about the Pixel 6 a year ago.

It sounds like the new phones – a successor to the Pixel 6 Pro is also expected – could be very similar to their 2021 predecessors. And a new price leak has suggested that the phones’ costs could be the same too, as a Twitter user spotted the Pixel 7 briefly listed on Amazon (before being promptly taken down, of course).

Google pixel 7 on Amazon US. $599.99.It is still showing up in search cache but the listing gives an error if you click on it. We have the B0 number to keep track of though!#teampixel pic.twitter.com/w5Z09D28YESeptember 27, 2022

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According to these listings, the Pixel 7 will cost $599 while the Pixel 7 Pro will cost $899, both of which are identical to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro starting prices. The leak doesn’t include any other region prices, but in the UK the current models cost £599 and £849, while in Australia they went for AU$999 and AU$1,299.

So it sounds like Google is planning on retaining the same prices for its new phones as it sold the old ones for, a move which doesn’t make much sense.


Analysis: same price, new world

Google’s choice to keep the same price points is a little curious when you consider that the specs leaks suggest these phones are virtually unchanged from their predecessors. You’re buying year-old tech for the same price as before.

Do bear in mind that the price of tech generally lowers over time, so you can readily pick up a cheaper Pixel 6 or 6 Pro right now, and after the launch of the new ones, the older models will very likely get even cheaper.

But there’s another key factor to consider in the price: $599 might be the same number in 2022 as it was in 2021, but with the changing global climate, like wars and flailing currencies and cost of living crises, it’s a very different amount of money.

Some people just won’t be willing to shell out the amount this year, that they may have been able to last year. But this speaks to a wider issue in consumer tech.

Google isn’t the only tech company to completely neglect the challenging global climate when pricing its gadgets: Samsung is still releasing super-pricey folding phones, and the iPhone 14 is, for some incomprehensible reason, even pricier than the iPhone 13 in some regions. 

Too few brands are actually catering to the tough economic times many are facing right now, with companies increasing the price of their premium offerings to counter rising costs, instead of just designing more affordable alternatives to flagships.

These high and rising prices suggest that companies are totally out of touch with their buyers, and don’t understand the economic hardship troubling many.

We’ll have to reach a breaking point sooner or later, either with brands finally clueing into the fact that they need to release cheaper phones, or with customers voting with their wallets by sticking to second-hand or refurbished devices. But until then, you can buy the best cheap phones to show that cost is important to you.

Tom’s role in the TechRadar team is to specialize in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working in TechRadar freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. Outside of TechRadar he works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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