We’ve all seen it, some of us live on air and others many years later. Lunar Module Eagle landed at Tranquility Base, carrying the first crewed mission to reach the Moon. The year was 1969 and the whole world needed a miracle that would help everyone forget about geopolitical tensions and wars that plagued many countries. Who would have known that the miracle would come in the form of a program known as Apollo 11.
At the time, the United States was trying to catch up with the Soviet Union and enhance its space developments. After all, the Soviet Space Program successfully sent the first human in space and something needed to be done about this. NASA decided it was time to land on the Moon.
On July 20 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin made history by becoming the first people to reach the Moon. Hours later, Armstrong took his first steps on the surface of Earth’s only natural satellite. While the world watched in awe, he famously said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
And it truly was.
This historic event allowed us to dream even bigger and try to reach distant areas. It has certainly paved the way for NASA’s Artemis Program. What does this program entail? Let’s find out!
What Is NASA’s Artemis Program?
Did you know that humans haven’t left Earth orbit since 1972? That year Apollo 17 returned home after NASA’s final Moon landing mission. 48 years is a long time if you ask us. Even NASA agrees if we were to judge by its Artemis Program.
Namely, NASA’s current mission is to land American astronauts on the Moon by 2024. That’s why the agency developed the Artemis lunar exploration program, looking to turn this dream into reality. NASA is collaborating with various international partners, including the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, and the UK Space Agency, seeking their expertise and technology to reach the lunar south pole region.
NASA’s Artemis Program is set to use innovative new technologies and systems that would help astronauts explore more of the Moon than it was previously thought possible. In addition, the agency wants to develop an ongoing presence on the satellite, taking the next giant leap.
In case you’re wondering, the name “Artemis” fits this program to a tee. Namely, Artemis is a twin sister of Apollo and the goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology. What a way to pay homage to the Apollo program!
Why Does NASA Want to Go to the Moon?
It has already been there, so why the rush to take another trip to our natural satellite? Shouldn’t the agency focus on its Mars missions? Apparently, it is doing that as well, planning to reach the Red Planet by the 2030s. However, it has currently set its sight on the Moon. NASA’s Artemis Program was developed for following reasons:
- The agency wants to demonstrate new technologies and capabilities that are vital for any future space exploration.
- Through this mission, NASA will help its government to establish American strategic presence on the Moon.
- It plans to expand its commercial and international partnerships.
- Just like the 1969 Moon landing, Artemis will inspire a new generation of scientists who will dare to dream bigger and reach further parts of the universe.
What NASA’s Artemis Includes
NASA’s Artemis Program includes three components that will make it possible for astronauts to reach and land on the Moon. Firstly, there is the Lunar Gateway. This is a mini-space station that is set to be placed in lunar orbit. It will serve as a communication hub, science laboratory, and it will even store rovers and other robots the agency plans to use.
Then, there is the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, which is a space capsule NASA uses for its spaceflight programs. It is set to carry the crew to the Gateway, using a Space Launch System rocket.
Much of the hardware will be developed by private aerospace firms. Indeed, NASA awarded $45.5 million to 11 U.S. companies last year. Among these companies are Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. These firms are entrusted to help NASA create spacecraft that can get astronauts safely to the Moon.
Apart from these two major companies, nine smaller businesses are also involved in NASA’s Artemis Program. They are to deliver spacecraft to the lunar surface so that astronauts could collect data and carry out research. Some of these businesses are particularly interested in mining lunar resources like water as they can be converted into rocket fuel.
NASA Introduces the Team
We are four years away from landing on the Moon and NASA’s Artemis Program is already generating interest around the world! The agency is working hard to meet the 2024 deadline and it recently revealed its team.
NASA selected 18 astronauts to form the Artemis team. There are nine women and nine men in the program. Two of the members will become the first American woman and man to return to the Moon since 1972.
Furthermore, the team consists of individuals who have already traveled to the International Space Station, but also of new recruits who have never been to space before. What will they encounter on the lunar surface remains to be seen.
Are you excited about NASA’s Artemis Program? If you could, would you join the mission? Tell us in the comments!