NASA has announced a new space program that will send astronauts back to the moon by 2024.
Less about picking up moon rocks, this new mission will be about establishing sustainable exploration (that means moon bases, natch). What they learn from building a base on the moon, will be used for future exploration into space and Mars.
It will be the first time humans will be sent to the moon since the last Apollo lunar mission in 1972.
According to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, “We’re going back to the moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new a generation of explorers.
“As we build up a sustainable presence, we’re also building momentum toward those first human steps on the Red Planet [Mars].”
NASA will be using a new rocket – the Space Launch System – and existing Orion spacecraft.
The first test mission – Artemis 1 – is on track for 2021. It won’t have astronauts onboard, but will travel to the moon and back to prove the rocket’s capabilities.
After that, Artemis II will have astronaut pilot the vehicle in space, to ensure it can work on the moon’s lunar gravity. And in 2024, Artemis III will be the big one – and take humans back to the moon.
NASA has said once there, astronauts will build habitation and logistics outposts. Over time, those outposts will evolve as new outposts are added. This will allow international astronauts to join in the lunar fun, as well as let crew stay on the moon for increasingly longer trips.
In case you missed it, there are two Emirati astronauts currently training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas, with two more being chosen for further training next year. It’s not clear if the UAE will be involved in NASA’s return to the moon (but one can hope).