Bringing people to the moon with NASA's Artemis 3 mission

The third scheduled flight of the Artemis program is referred to as Artemis 3. In 2025, if prior Artemis program missions go according to schedule, the expedition hopes to land people on the moon. This mission attempts to launch the massive Space Launch System (SLS) mega-rocket and Orion spacecraft, similar to the crewed Artemis 2 and uncrewed Artemis 1 missions. The team will utilize SpaceX's Starship, a technology that the California corporation is currently building for crewed human missions, to land on the moon. Although the launch date of 2025 is somewhat unclear, the crew for Artemis 3 has not yet been announced. Before approving the launch of Artemis 3, NASA is awaiting the results of both Artemis 1 and Artemis 2. For the moon landing to go through, the agency will also need significant advancements in both spacesuits and the human landing mechanism.

Artemis 3 launch date

After missing its intended 2024 launch goal, the Artemis 3 launch date has now been set for 2025. The accomplishment of earlier missions, the creation of new spacesuits, and the availability of an unflown human landing system (SpaceX's Starship) are the three main factors that will determine how prepared NASA is for Artemis 3. 2022's Artemis 1 will test if SLS and Orion are ready to transport people. If the 2024 Artemis 2 mission succeeds as planned, the main objectives will be to transport four people to the moon's orbit and back. The minimum runtime for Artemis 2 is eight days (but could extend to as long as three weeks). In addition to analyzing the data gathered by Artemis 1 and 2, NASA must also make sure its spacesuits are prepared. The agency first created the spacesuits internally, but after receiving a warning from NASA's Office of the Inspector General that the agency-made spacesuits were adding excessive delay, it decided to switch to commercial suppliers. The readiness of SpaceX's Starship system will be the final piece. Starship has not yet flown an orbital trip and has only conducted a few tests in mid-air. In 2022, SpaceX plans to launch an orbital mission. Due to Blue Origin, a rival for the HLS contract with NASA, filing a complaint (and eventually a lawsuit), the preparation of Starship for the moon was also put off. The case has been settled, although it caused a several-month delay in the HLS contract's implementation.

Who will fly on Artemis 3?

The names of the Artemis 3 crew are still unknown. According to NASA, there will be four astronauts on board. At least a portion of the crew will be astronauts from NASA. The organization promised that the moon landing team will include the first woman and the first person of color (as all of the Apollo human landing missions of the 1960s and 1970s had white men on board.) NASA granted the whole astronaut corps eligibility for Artemis flights in 2022. What additional organizations could be invited on the trip is unknown. The Artemis Accords, a worldwide initiative sponsored by NASA, are establishing a coalition of dozens of organizations. Japan has been offered a seat on a future moon trip, and perhaps even a place on a landing mission, by the Americans. According to the White House at the time, the deal between Japan and the United States was reached as part of a bigger package of agreements on cybersecurity, 5G mobile networks, and other scientific and technical cooperation. The European Space Agency is a significant partner in the Artemis Accords, supplying the NASA Orion spacecraft with a European Service Module and the Gateway space station with a number of components. Canada would be a less probable candidate because it already has an astronaut assigned to Artemis 2 as a result of its contributions of Canadarm3 robotic technology to Gateway.

What will Artemis 3 do?

Similar to Artemis 2, Artemis 3 will include a launch from the Kennedy Space Center, a translunar injection to send the astronauts to the moon, an orbital mission, and a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean upon return to Earth. The placement of two people near the south pole of the moon in the area known as Artemis Base Camp, which is rich in water ice, will be the mission's primary new objective beyond Artemis 2. (The landing site has not yet been chosen, and the other two astronauts would remain onboard Orion, in lunar orbit.) The moon's surface appears to contain a significant amount of water, according to observations from various missions, especially in permanently shaded craters that never see the sun. Under the top three feet (one meter) of lunar regolith, these craters may include water ice and deposits rich in hydrogen. Water is required not just for human needs but also for equipment and the surface-growing of plants.

Although scientists have acknowledged there is disagreement about how clean the water is and exactly where it is situated, high-resolution maps from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter do reveal a great lot of information about the water that is present. In addition, efforts to convert water into fuel continue (a CubeSat selected to fly with Artemis 1 is investigating water electrolysis, as a single example.) NASA is planning to conduct a number of Commercial Lunar Payload Service missions that will deploy landers, rovers, and research payloads on the surface of the south pole in the upcoming years. As early as 2026, Canada may deploy a robotic rover to the moon. In the 2020s, robotic exploration and the CLPS missions may help scientists and engineers better understand how much water is accessible to people. NASA anticipates the landing team will spend 6.5 days on the lunar surface, which is roughly twice as long as the Apollo astronauts spent on their longest missions, in addition to conducting scientific experiments and learning about the moon's water. Four moonwalks, or extravehicular activities, lasting around six hours, will be carried out by them, similar to what is done on the International Space Station. Since a rover is not listed on the manifest, the agency anticipates that the astronauts will move about using their feet.

What comes after Artemis 3?

Due to the mission's distance from Earth, planning beyond Artemis 3 is quite unclear, however, NASA has begun some preliminary planning for the latter 2020s. The amount of funding the agency obtains from Congress, as well as the technological development of the Artemis program, have a significant impact on the schedule for these missions. According to the agency's "moon to Mars planning manifest," which was included with its 2023 budget proposal, Artemis 4 would likely launch in 2027 to aid in the construction of Gateway. Artemis 5 would then be the following manned mission to land on the moon in 2028. In 2029, 2030, and 2031, Artemis 6 through 8 would make their next three landings. Artemis has been presented by NASA as a chance to develop upcoming Mars missions, however the precise timing has not yet been determined. The organization stated that the goal is to concentrate on the annual lunar landings initially before more specifically focusing on the Red Planet in early 2022.

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