NASA's Artemis Program

The Artemis program of NASA aims to land astronauts on the moon's surface and establish a sustained presence there. The name of the mission was inspired by Artemis, the twin sister of Apollo and the Greek goddess of the moon, who first sent humans to the moon on July 20, 1969. The prior actions NASA was already carrying out to send people back to the moon have been renamed as part of the Artemis mission. These were required by President Trump's Space Policy Directive 1, which gave the organization the job of concentrating on moon missions. Vice President Mike Pence set a lofty goal in 2019 to send astronauts to the lunar south pole by 2024.

Using the moon as a stepping stone for a voyage to Mars is one of the Artemis mission's goals, which is maybe the most challenging. The only sleuthing done on Mars thus far has been done by robots, but NASA now plans to deploy people there by the 2030s. The return to the moon will be utilized to provide humanity with the information and resources we need to more effectively navigate our solar system, with a future aim set on the Red Planet. But how can a voyage to the moon help us be ready for a mission to Mars, which is quite different and unpredictable?

Steven Swanson, a three-time NASA astronaut who spent more than 195 days in space on three missions to the International Space Station (aboard Space Shuttle missions STS-117 and STS-119 and Soyuz mission TMA-12M), discussed the significance of Artemis.

The true objective, according to Swanson in the November 2020 edition, is Mars. And because landing on Mars is a highly challenging undertaking, we will utilize the moon as a testbed. It will take roughly three years, and a Mars mission does not allow for early return. It takes seven or eight months to go there, and once there, you have to wait 15 months for the planets to line up properly once again before you can leave again.

According to Bridenstine, in addition to Mars, we may utilize the moon as a testbed for various initiatives to determine whether we can really extract resources from the moon and possibly use those to create fuel.

The mission's objectives were given the new name Artemis on May 14. The administrator of the space agency Jim Bridenstine told reporters the day of the announcement that the name symbolizes the program's aim of inclusivity, referring to the fact that NASA currently aspires to send the first woman to the moon. I want my 11-year-old daughter to be able to picture herself in the same position as today's ladies who travel to the moon to view themselves.

First women on the moon

In six trips between 1969 and 1972, 12 people all of them men walked on the moon's surface. The most experienced astronauts were needed for such a high-risk trip, and at the time, there were no women at NASA with the necessary test flight expertise. Space was long thought to be a field dominated by men, and it wasn't until 1978 that NASA chose its first female astronauts. 75 women will have traveled to space by March 2022, and the Artemis lunar landing will serve as a symbol of how times have changed.

Although the choice has not yet been made, it is most likely going to be an astronaut from NASA who has already served on the ISS. Including nine women (Kayla Barron, Christina H. Koch, Nicole A. Mann, Anne McClain, Jessica Meir, Jasmin Moghbeli, Kate Rubins, Jessica Watkins, and Stephanie Wilson) and nine males, NASA unveiled the Artemis crew of astronauts in December 2020. (Joseph Acaba, Raja Chari, Matthew Dominick, Victor Glover, Warren Hoburg, Jonny Kim, Kjell Lindgren, Frank Rubio, and Scott Tingle). All active NASA astronauts are eligible for Artemis missions, with crew selection to be made at a later time, according to chief astronaut Reid Wiseman's announcement in August 2022.

Artemis three-part plan

The Space Launch System (SLS), a new mega-rocket from NASA, and the Orion spacecraft are at the heart of the Artemis program. The SLS is a 98-meter-tall (322 feet) rocket that can send a payload into space using a core stage, an upper stage, and twin five-segment solid rocket boosters. The rocket will send the Orion spacecraft to the moon for crewed Artemis missions. Orion is a spacecraft that can transport four people on lunar trips and is bigger than the Apollo command modules.

2022 - Artemis 1: The SLS rocket's safety as well as the Orion capsule's capability to go to the moon, function while in lunar orbit, and return to Earth for an ocean splashdown will be tested on the first trip, which will be unmanned. 13 miniature satellites will be sent into orbit by the SLS rocket to conduct research and demonstrate new technologies. The probe will orbit the moon for six days while gathering performance information. After a 42-day journey, the mission will launch on August 29 and land on Oct. 10.

2024- Artemis 2: The Orion spacecraft, which is carrying the first four members of the Artemis crew, will carry the crew further from Earth than any other crew has ever gone. The team will fly around the moon during the roughly 10-day journey, then return to Earth while testing the systems of the spaceship while carrying people.

2025 - Artemis 3: The following man and the first woman will now set foot on the moon. The astronauts will launch for the moon, utilizing the lunar lander to lower two humans to the south polar area of the moon, assuming that earlier missions have been successful. They plan to stay there for about a week.

Earth to Moon

What does the Artemis project include?

There are several elements that fall under Artemis. The first is the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, a station orbiting the moon that would increase human presence in space and serve as a launchpad for lunar exploration missions and scientific research. The Gateway would be sent into lunar orbit by NASA's SLS rocket, a massive new rocket that is now under development. Orion deep space capsules carrying four people would be used to reach the station, where they would spend 30 to 90 days at a time.
An expanded role for private aerospace companies, which are supposed to produce hardware and potentially launch a lunar economy, is part of the Trump administration's push toward the moon. Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin are among the 11 American businesses that received $45.5 million from NASA to create landers that can carry men to the moon's surface. Based on its massive Starship spacecraft, SpaceX was chosen to supply the Artemis 3 manned lander.

Additionally, nine smaller enterprises have been hired to transport robotic spacecraft to our natural satellite so that data can be gathered and studies can be done there. Some people are interested in extracting resources from the moon, such as water, which can be broken down into its components hydrogen and oxygen, and used as rocket fuel.

Since the Apollo missions, astronauts have taken part in several spacewalks, but none of these have required them to traverse a celestial body's surface. A brand-new, modern spacesuit will be worn by the following astronaut when they set foot on the moon. NASA has presented two specially crafted Artemis generation spacesuits: one for the launch and landing, worn within the spacecraft, and one to safeguard the bodies of astronauts traveling outside the Orion capsule's protective walls. With the intention of enhancing the comfort and usefulness of earlier iterations, the suits will be specifically fitted to their bodies.

The major change (in the new suits), according to Swanson, is in the shoulders. Swanson said this after considering the five spacewalks he completed over his career. You get more mobility and the ability to reach farther than you would with a suit on. Their legs may move more freely as well. It didn't really matter how much mobility you had in your lower body on the ISS because you didn't actually use your legs for much of anything. It will now be very important on the moon.

Tech Check

The launch rocket is in charge of performing the crucial duty of launching the crew and spacecraft into orbit. The latest rocket developed by NASA for manned space missions beyond Earth orbit is called the Space Launch System. It is intended to fly at a speed of 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers per hour), over 1,000 times faster than spacecraft destined for the International Space Station. The core stage separates about eight minutes after liftoff, allowing the astronauts to continue their mission to the moon.

Where is Artemis going?

The chosen astronauts are most likely to go to the south pole of the moon during the first Artemis lunar missions. Given that it is thought to have the greatest concentration of water ice, this location has a lot of promise. If we can get to this water, we might be able to use it to support further human space travel, whether it is for refueling rockets, cooling equipment, or human hydration. The massive 12-mile (19-kilometer) Shackleton crater is a landmark on the moon's surface that is well worth seeing. The low temperatures make it a good area for ice to grow, casting a permanent shadow on the crater's dips. In fact, some of the lowest temperatures in the solar system are maintained in these continuously dark regions. Even while it's possible to find water on the moon's lighted surfaces, it's preferable to start your search for more natural resources in a region where water is most likely to be abundant.

How much does Artemis cost?

It's hard to say at this moment how many of these spectacular ideas will actually come to pass. The total cost of Artemis is currently undetermined, and cost estimates are continuously being improved. NASA estimates that the final budget for the Apollo program was $23.6 billion in 1973 dollars, or more than $136 billion today. That indicates that each Apollo lunar landing cost around $22.6 billion. By 2025, it is anticipated that NASA will have spent $93 billion on Artemis, with each SLS/Orion launch costing $4.1 billion.

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