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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: NASA

A new report paints a stark picture of NASA's progress toward accomplishing its Artemis mission to the Moon in 2024.

Why it matters: The report from NASA's inspector general — and others like it — reveals some of what lurks below the positive face the space agency puts forward announcing its accomplishments and hyping its future endeavors.

  • "I think the report is part of a piece, and the piece is that we seem to be kidding ourselves about the likelihood of achieving our exploration goals," John Logsdon, the founder of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, told Axios.

Details: One of the major issues the report points out is NASA's struggles to manage big projects like the development of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule, both of which are key to Artemis.

  • Years of delays, cost overruns and budget shortfalls have put the space agency behind in its exploration goals and calls into question the timelines set out to complete future missions, like Artemis.
  • The report also found SpaceX and Boeing are unlikely to regularly fly astronauts to the International Space Station before summer 2020, which could mean a reduction in NASA crew aboard the station.
  • These delays aren't just limited to human exploration. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule, threatening to delay other astrophysics missions coming after it.

What to watch: NASA is working to get Artemis fully funded by Congress.

  • On Oct. 31, the Senate approved a spending bill that allocates $22.75 billion for NASA, which does include some of the additional $1.6 billion NASA requested in order to accelerate Artemis to the Moon by 2024.
  • While that appears to be good news for NASA, it's now likely that Congress will need to pass a stopgap bill that will fund the government at fiscal year 2019 levels until discrepancies with the appropriations bills can be resolved.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 42 mins ago - Health

WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Health measures taken to combat COVID-19 before the emergence of Omicron would also help against the new variant of concern, World Health Organization officials said Friday.

What they're saying: Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said during a virtual briefing broadcast from Manila, Philippines, that border controls imposed by the U.S. and other nations can "buy time" to deal with the variant, but warned "every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases."

2 hours ago - Health

Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Nevada's Public Employees' Benefit Program Board voted Thursday to charge workers enrolled in public employee health insurance plans a surcharge of up to $55 a month if they're not vaccinated against COVID-19, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state to announce such a move, per AP.

Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin testifies before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Getty Images

The state of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Thursday in an attempt to block the enforcement of its vaccine mandate for federal employees.

Why it matters: The move comes one day after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin denied Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's (R) request to exempt the state's National Guard from the mandate.