NASA is determined to explore the lunar surface before landing humans on Mars.
The launch of the uncrewed Artemis I spacecraft on Wednesday is just one step toward the future of space exploration.
Apollo 17 was almost 50 years ago, and Apollo 17 was the last crewed landing on the moon. Apollo 17’s final crewed deep-space flight was completed in 12.5 days.
The Artemis program aims to land humans on the lunar south pole, eventually Mars. It will allow astronauts to go on long-duration deep space missions, which will test the limits of exploration.
“We’re going to the moon to learn how to live, work, and survive,” stated Bill Nelson, NASA administrator, during a news conference held earlier this month.
How do you keep people alive in such hostile environments? We’re going to find out how to use resources on the moon to help us build things in the future. Not a quarter of a million miles away, but a three-day trip. But millions and millions of miles on a long journey that takes months or even years.
NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik spoke out about the importance of lunar exploration in preparing for landing on Mars.
He said that you shouldn’t rely on shoes and gear that haven’t been worn yet when camping in Alaska’s wilderness. Mars is not the best place to try out new gear.
Bresnik stated that they would first visit some more local locations. “Then, you can return home if your shoelaces are broken or something similar.”
For more than twenty years, astronauts have lived and worked aboard International Space Station. It orbits around 254 miles above Earth in low-Earth orbit. The experiences of the astronauts, which can last from six months to almost a year, reveal how microgravity affects the human body.
“Every day I spent on the space station, it was like walking on Mars,” stated NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman. Wiseman is Chief of the Astronaut Office at Johnson Space Center, Houston. “That’s why we’re there. We are trying to improve the quality of life on Earth and to bring more people into the solar system.
Artemis II is scheduled for 2024. Astronauts will follow the same path as Artemis I, but they will circle the moon at a greater distance than any Apollo missions. Artemis III, which is scheduled for late 2025 will land the first woman astronaut and the next man at Moon’s South Pole. These shadowed areas may contain ice or other resources that could support astronauts on long moonwalks.
Jacob Bleacher (NASA’s chief exploration scientist) stated that the moon is essentially a celestial library located right next to Earth. “Lunar rocks and lunar ice serve as the books in this library. They can be used to help us understand how the solar system evolved. This will allow us to gain insight into the past events here on Earth as life established a foothold within the solar system.
Artemis is a program that establishes a permanent human presence on the Moon and places an orbiting lunar outpost called The Gateway.
Jim Free, NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate associate administrator, stated that NASA wants to “stay on the moon surface and learn there so we can do the best science and plan our trip to Mars.” “On Apollo, we did amazing science at the Equator. We’re now going to the South Pole.
Nelson stated that the SLS rocket will continue to evolve. The rocket will be even taller and more powerful by the time the Artemis IV mission arrives at the launchpad in the latter part of this decade to dock with Gateway.
Nelson explained that Artemis I is a testing mission. It is the Space Launch System Rocket’s inaugural flight. The Orion spacecraft, its heat shield, and protective gear for future astronauts will be used.
Science experiments and technology demonstrations in Orion, as well as flying outside on CubeSats small satellites called CubeSats will provide additional information about the space environment that future Artemis astronauts will encounter.
Artemis I’s lessons can be used to inform the next steps in the Artemis program.
Free stated that the plans for the five first Artemis missions are in place and NASA is currently working to lay out details for the six-tenth mission.
NASA teams are currently “going through the broad exploratory objectives, and then narrowing it down to an architecture that takes us out on Mars,” Free stated. “We plan to roll through this architecture, decisions, and process in the first half of next year.”
NASA officials have maintained the goal of landing humans on Mars in 2033, as set by the Obama Administration.
Bhavya Lal (NASA associate administrator for technology policy and strategy), stated that NASA is now at a historic turning point and poised to launch the most important series of human exploration and science missions in a generation with the Artemis I launch.