The Artemis Mission and the Future of Space Travel
A look into the Artemis Missions and their not-so-distant implications.
The SLS Rocket and Orion Spacecraft
Image Credit : NASA/Aubrey Gemignan
As NASA ushers in the almost 50 yr awaited return to the moon with the Artemis Mission - a crew of diverse astronauts and the plan to establish a base on the moon - this already 40 billion dollar project is also marking a new era of space travel.
The Artemis mission isn’t solely a project meant to probe the lunar surface, it’s also a simulation of the mission to Mars. Through these missions, astronauts will be able to practice life on an alien surface. The Apollo missions marked the longest human presence on the moon with 12.5 days and NASA plans to break that record in future years while figuring out how to sustain human life in space. Plans include establishing an orbiting lunar outpost called the Gateway and exploring more of the moon's surface. Previous Apollo missions only explored the moon's equator, and NASA wants to go further, starting with the South Pole. In the not-so-distant future, this base will act as an in-between point for the Earth and Mars.
The first phase of this mission is the launch of Artemis 1. The new Space Launch Systems (SLS) Rocket and the Orion Spacecraft will blast off from the Kennedy Space Station unmanned, serving as a test mission. NASA wants to examine the capabilities of its systems while also gathering information about the interplanetary conditions astronauts will face. Artemis 1 is set to spend 38 days in space, deploy 10 CubeSats (small satellites set to gather data), assess radiation levels its future crew may face, and test its heat shield in descent.
Providing all goes well, the next phase of the mission is Artemis 2 with an expected launch date in May 2024. The launch of Artemis 2 will be manned by a crew of four astronauts. NASA has not yet announced the crew members but has built its initial team of 18 astronauts it calls the Artemis Team. This team consists of a diverse panel of astronauts as NASA promises to send the first woman and person of color to the moon. The Artemis 2 is not a lunar touchdown mission but astronauts will perform a lunar flyby test and return to Earth.
Artemis 3 would mark the first crewed lunar landing of the Artemis mission and the first moon landing since Apollo 17 in 1972. If all goes to plan, the launch of Artemis 3 is set to take place in 2025 or 2026.
But we’re not stopping there, NASA has already planned Artemis missions 1-5 and is reportedly working on Artemis missions 6-10.
The Artemis Missions will become a main focal point for the future of space travel, surpassing the barriers of human limits, testing our abilities to reason and overcome obstacles in our search for a new frontier. The launch of Artemis 1 is marking the new era of space travel and what some scientists say is a small step (or giant leap) for mankind in becoming a multi-planetary species.