Astronauts have not flown a mission to the Moon since 1972. But NASA announced Tuesday that a crew will be sent in November 2024 via the Artemis 2 space mission. The first part of this mission was a success for the US agency and ended last December after just over 25 days in space. The Orion spacecraft, which had no one on board for this first test flight, was powered by the new SLS rocket, the most powerful in the world. It had successfully entered orbit around the Moon, before returning to Earth.
LIVE NOW: Hear from NASA experts and dive into the findings of our successful #Artemis I mission, which flew the uncrewed @NASA_Orion spacecraft around the Moon and back to Earth. https://t.co/OiAGvg0wZC
— NASA (@NASA) March 7, 2023
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The detailed analysis of this mission continues, Jim Free, associate administrator at NASA, said at a press conference. But the first feedback should allow a takeoff of the second Artemis mission towards "the end of November 2024", he said.
A woman and a person of color
NASA's goal is to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon, with the construction of a base on its surface and a space station in orbit around it. Learning to live on the Moon should make it possible to test all the technologies necessary for a journey of even greater complexity: the round trip of a crew to Mars.
NASA is to announce this year the four lucky ones who will form the crew of Artemis 2. We only know that a Canadian will be one of them. The Artemis program was to send the first woman and person of color to the moon, when the Apollo program had taken 12 men, all white.
"We need a lunar lander"
They will go around the Moon, without landing there, during a mission of about ten days. Then comes Artemis 3, which will land astronauts on the lunar surface. It is officially still scheduled for 2025, although this schedule could not be more uncertain.
"We have always planned approximately twelve months" between Artemis 2 and 3, Jim Free repeated Tuesday. But he immediately stressed that the third mission would be suspended until the finalization of many essential elements, currently under development. "We need a lunar lander," and "we're going to have our 'spacesuits' for lunar surface exploration," Free said. The lunar lander will be a version of SpaceX's Starship spacecraft, but whose first orbital flight has not yet taken place.
- Mission Artemis