NASA kicks off Artemis Moon program
The next era of space exploration has begun with NASA’s new Artemis program. Congress tasked NASA with putting humans on the Moon by 2024, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished by the U.S. for decades.
The program, called Artemis, will put humans back on the Moon. However, the Artemis mission is nothing like the world has ever seen. It’s far more advanced than our first mission to the Moon in 1969. Artemis will lead to many firsts in space exploration, paving the way for our path to Mars.
What is the Artemis program?
The Apollo program led the first mission to the Moon in 1969. It’s only fitting that its follow-up program in 2024 would be named after the Greek god Apollo’s twin sister, Artemis.
As the Greek goddess of the Moon, Artemis represents humanity’s path to the Moon over the next five years.
The Artemis program will place astronauts on the Moon’s south pole. It will operate in two phases. During phase one, NASA will aim to put humans on the Moon’s surface by 2024. In phase two, NASA will create a sustained human presence on the Moon by 2028.
However, a lot of planning and strategy is required to pull off such a daring mission. That’s why NASA is partnering with commercial companies to speed up payload delivery to the lunar surface. This will help NASA deliver materials to the Moon faster, speeding up research before humans arrive in 2024.
Before human arrival, NASA will use instruments from these payloads to research lander positions, lunar radiation, navigation, and human impact on the Moon.
Why Artemis is important
Americans have been to the Moon before; why do we need to return? What sets the Artemis mission apart from the original Apollo missions?
Artemis has and will continue to create many firsts for space exploration. It will be the United State’s first return to the Moon in decades, which is no small feat.
As we look towards a future on Mars, humans must first master our exploration techniques. The Moon is a perfect staging ground for technology and processes as we prepare for interstellar travel.
Artemis is significant for three big reasons.
- Commercial partnerships
NASA originally sought a 2028 deadline for putting humans on the Moon. To make Congress’s 2024 deadline, the organization partnered with private commercial partners to speed up the payload process.
This has never happened before. In previous missions, NASA delivered its own payloads. The choice to partner with outside companies shows that collaboration is an important step for exploring the universe.
- Sustainable presence on the Moon
NASA is planning to install a lunar Gateway that will orbit the Moon. They’re also considering ways to refuel in space, making the Gateway system reusable and sustainable.
The long term goal of the Artemis program is to put humans on the Moon and have us stay there in perpetuity by 2028. This will aid in scientific discoveries, technological advancements, and offers the exciting possibility of a lunar economy.
- The first woman on the Moon
Artemis is sending astronauts to the Moon’s south pole, where no humans have ever set foot. But this accomplishment is eclipsed by another great achievement: the Artemis program will put the first woman on the Moon.
The 1969 lunar landing was all men. Of the 500 people that have flown to space, only 64 have been women.
Although NASA hasn’t named the female astronaut yet, they have reserved a space on the mission for a female. This is one small step for the female astronaut and a huge leap forward for all women and girls. NASA hopes this will help close gender gaps and inspire more young girls to pursue STEM careers.
To the Moon and beyond
The Artemis program will shed new light on our Moon. It will break barriers, set records, and increase our understanding of the universe. The success of the Artemis mission will pave the way for humanity to explore Mars and beyond in a matter of decades.