NASA’s Artemis Moon Landing Program: Launch, Timeline, and More

An artist's concept of a NASA Artemis astronaut on the moon.

An artist’s conception of the Artemis astronauts working on the lunar surface.
picture: NASA

No humans have set foot on the moon since 1972, but NASA aims to change that through its ambitious Artemis program.Moon missions could begin in late 2022so we’ve put together this guide to keep you up to date.

This article will be continuously updated as new information becomes available.

On December 14, 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt said goodbye to the moon.as they drifted towards Earth, it may never have thought They don’t think it will be another half a century or more before humans return to the lunar surface.But that’s where we are today, and the Apollo mission is unwavering in the history books.

What is NASA’s Artemis project?

Artemis is the program that finally promises to rekindle lunar exploration, Because NASA is trying to land a man and a woman on the moon no earlier than 2025.But Artemis is more than just dropping two people to the lunar surface.This time, NASA plans arrive Build a sustainable presence on and around the Moon and use the program as a stepping stone to the next giant leap: manned missions to Mars.

NASA’s Space Launch System rocket on the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center.

NASA’s Space Launch System on the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Announced in 2017, Artemis will “enable human expansion across the solar system,” according to NASA’s Artemis PlanThe Age of Artemis could involve as many as 11 lunar missions (some manned, some unmanned), the first five of which are currently in development.

long-Long-term goals include the construction of the Lunar Gateway (the first space station to orbit the moon) and the installation of Artemis Base Camp (a ground station)).Both commercial and international partners will be involved, the latter will include the Canadian Space AgencyEuropean Space Agencyand the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Why did NASA choose the name Artemis?

Artemis is the Greek goddess of the moon and the hunt and Apollo’s twin sister, so it’s a nice callback to the original manned mission to the moon. However, to be fair, Artemis is the best name choice for a moon mission, Because Apollo was the Greek god of the sun. Arguably, the new name is a timely correction of a potential sexist oversight.

Why is NASA returning to the moon?

According to NASA, the U.S. aims to lead an “innovative and sustainable exploration program through NASA with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion in the solar system and bring new knowledge to the table” and opportunity to bring back to Earth.” space policy directive Signed on December 11, 2017. “Starting with missions beyond low Earth orbit, the United States will lead humans back to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations,” the White House memo continued.

Or more simply, the return to our natural satellites is to facilitate new scientific discoveries, investigate potential economic benefits, and inspire “a new generation of explorers,” according to NASA.

In fact, there is still a lot to learn about the Moon, such as its origin and geochemical composition. Importantly, Artemis astronauts will explore the moon’s south pole region in search of water ice — a key enabler. sustainable human presence there. Artemis could also pave the way for the commercialization of the moon, be it space tourism or the extraction of resources such as rare earth elements and hElium-3.

An overview of the Artemis mission, showing expected progress on the surface and in lunar orbit.

An overview of the Artemis mission, showing expected progress on the surface and in lunar orbit.
picture: NASA

The part about Artemis being a stepping stone to Mars is also key. The technology and knowledge accumulated over the course of these missions should make it possible for NASA and its partners to eventually lInitiate a manned mission to the red planet.

What technologies does Artemis require?

NASA and its private and public partners are developing a range of new technologies.this Orion The spacecraft to take astronauts to the moon and back have been developed, but really everything else needs to be built.This includes NASA’s space launch system (SLS) – A 322-foot-tall (98-meter) behemoth that NASA calls a “giant lunar rocket.”

Artist's conception of the Artemis surface mission.

Artist’s conception of the Artemis surface mission.
picture: NASA

Other key technologies include Two different lunar landersor the Human Landing System, As NASA points out, lunar spacesuit as. .to be known EMUan unpressurized lunar rover, the aforementioned lunar gateway (which itself will involve multiple elements), and an array of exploration ground systems.

How much does Artemis cost?

a lot of.Inspector General audit Discovery has already spent $40 billion on Artemis starting November 15, 2021, and NASA is expected to spend a total of $93 billion by the end of 2025. Shockingly, the same report claims that the first four launches of SLS/Orion will cost an estimated $4.1 billion each. The inspector general warned that if NASA fails to reduce that cost, the space agency “will face significant challenges in maintaining its Artemis program in its current configuration.”

Is SpaceX part of Artemis?

Yes, SpaceX plays a key role in Artemis. April 2021, Elon Musk-led company sign A $2.89 billion contract with NASA to supply lunar landers for these missions. The company intends to use its upcoming Starship rocket for the platform, which will require a giant rocket to make a vertical landing on the lunar surface.

Concept image showing the design of SpaceX's manned lander.

Concept image showing the design of SpaceX’s manned lander.
picture: SpaceX

Until then, the Starship lander will have to refuel in low-Earth orbit and connect with Orion to perform astronaut transfers in lunar orbit. The technical complexity required may seem daunting, We can’t wait to see if SpaceX Teams can succeed. That said, NASA is pursuing a second lunar lander from a yet-to-be-identified commercial supplier.

Did NASA select astronauts for the Artemis mission?

NASA has not revealed the names of the astronauts who will be on the Artemis mission, but the space agency has assembled a initial team Astronauts ‘paving the way for next moon landing mission’. The first crewed Artemis mission won’t happen until 2024 at the earliest, so we may have to wait to find out who will be involved and in what capacity.

When will Artemis 1 launch?

no firm date Setup for Artemis 1 – Unattended huge first launch SLS Rocket. NASA is still preparing rockets for many of its rocketsexpected to take off, but it Can occur in late August.

For this mission, an unmanned Orion spacecraft will travel to the moon and return to Earth without performing a lunar landing. Artemis 1 will be used to test fledgling rockets and Orion in a real environment.task condition, for a manned missions.

Overview of Artemis 1.

Overview of Artemis 1.
picture: NASA

Artemis 1 will deploy 13 low-cost CubeSats, including three mannequin Vests designed to measure vibration and space radiation, as well as to protect astronauts from ionizing radiation.

When will Artemis 2 be released?

Artemis 2, one of Orion capsule with human crew A trip to the moon will be made without a landing, currently planned for no earlier than May 2024. Aside from the presence of four NASA astronauts, the mission will be nearly identical to Artemis 1.

When will Artemis 3 be released?

Artemis 3 is currently targeted for no earlier than 2025. The plan is to land a man and a woman near the lunar south pole region, where they will spend nearly a full week exploring the lunar surface. The remaining two crew members will remain on the lunar portal, which itself will be connected to Orion. If all goes according to plan, pressureless rover and other equipment will be placed on the ground before the mission begins. At least four spacewalks are planned, with priority given to finding water ice.

When will Artemis 4 be released?

Conceptual images of the Lunar Portal (left) and the Orion spacecraft.

Conceptual images of the Lunar Portal (left) and the Orion spacecraft.
picture: NASA

The fourth Artemis mission is currently planned for 2026. Four astronauts will be launched to the lunar portal, where they will continue to build the lunar outpost.The mission will be delivered to the European Space Agency’s I-Hab Habitat Module to the gateway and it will behave in a unique way near-straight halo orbit. The I-Hab will eventually become the primary habitat for astronauts on the Gateway. During this mission, no moon landings are expected.

When will Artemis 5 be released?

Artemis 5 should launch in 2027. The plan is to send four astronauts to the Gateway and then deploy two crew members to the lunar surface. Astronauts will once again explore the South Pole region of the Moon.

The mission will also seek to deliver ESA’s Spirit (European system providing fueling, infrastructure and telecommunications) to the gateway. According to ESA, ESPIRIT “will provide enhanced communications, refueling and a window similar to the cupola observatory on the International Space Station built in Europe”.

What will happen next?

Artemis Mission 6 It’s still in the proposal stage by 11, so we’re not entirely sure when they’ll be released or what they’ll involve.

Artist's conception of Artemis' late mission.

Artist’s conception of Artemis’ late mission.
picture: NASA

That said, the gateway needs an airlock, so the delivery and installation of this component will be a goal if Artemis 6 is to be implemented.These late Artemis missions will expand in scope and ambition still It may see the installation of lunar habitats, pressurized mobile homes, and other elements designed to enable a sustained human presence on the moon. At this stage, lunar expeditions can last up to 45 days.

If the Artemis program unfolds as expected, NASA could plan a manned trip to Mars. Current expectations are for crews to land on the red planet in the late 2030s or early 2040s. To take advantage of the ideal orbital alignment between Mars and Earth, a crewed expedition to Mars without a landing and return could take place in 2033.

From there, the rest of the solar system awaits. But it all started with Artemis.

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