By Rosalyn Brady
December 5, 2022
UPDATED 12:00 PM EST
NASA’s Artemis Project
By Rosalyn Brady
[Photo Credit: nasa.gov]
For the first time in fifty years, humanity is preparing to return to the moon. NASA’s Artemis program is currently set to launch in 2024, and progress is being made daily towards meeting this goal. With the Artemis program, NASA aims to land the first woman and the first person of colour on the surface of the Moon, and to inspire what NASA has coined to be the ‘Artemis Generation’: those young future astronauts who will now be able to see themselves in and be inspired by the Artemis crew. NASA’s other main aims include exploring the lunar South Pole for the first time and conducting studies and experiments on samples of lunar rock, reigniting passion for discovery and expiration, and fueling new lunar-based industries and job growth while creating demand for lunar-based careers by doing this.
Additionally, the Artemis Project is paving the way for international lunar collaboration by introducing the Artemis Accords, a treaty signed by eight countries under which they promise to be transparent with their data and procedures, to be peaceful with their space exploration and not to intentionally incite conflict, to only extract space resources sustainably, to provide emergency aid to astronauts in need of it, and to coordinate their areas of operation, clearly describing when and where these operations will happen and the rules regarding usage of those locations.
The Artemis project is already well underway. It began with Artemis I on November 16, 2022, when the Orion spacecraft, designed to send the astronauts to the Moon, was launched from the Kennedy Space Centre using the Space Launch System, the world’s most powerful rocket designed to send the Orion spacecraft to the moon. Artemis I was a fly-by mission designed to test the capabilities of the Orion spacecraft, which entered the moon’s gravitational influence on November 20 and successfully performed its fly-by on November 21, within 130 kilometres of the lunar surface. On November 23, the Orion spacecraft exited the Moon’s gravitational influence, and on November 28, it broke the world record for the farthest human-carrying spacecraft from Earth - beating Apollo 13’s 400,471 km distance with a distance of 432,210 km. Another flyby was performed on December 5 at a distance of 128 km, before successfully landing in the Pacific Ocean on December 11.
The next step, Artemis II, will launch in 2023, using the Space Launch System to launch four astronauts in the Orion spacecraft. While orbiting Earth, at 185 and then 378 kilometres above, the astronauts will test the overall function of the spacecraft, the oxygen generation systems, and NASA’s Deep Space Network communication and navigation system. The group will then perform a fly-by 4,600 kilometres beyond the Moon before returning.
After this, in 2024, Artemis III will land the first woman and person of colour on the surface of the Moon, and the first astronauts on the lunar South Pole. For a week, they will gather lunar rock samples and conduct studies and experiments before returning home. Subsequent missions will launch often, allowing the Gateway docking system to develop, allowing astronauts to establish Artemis Base Camp, the first lunar base complete with a rover, mobile home, and a lunar cabin, and allowing future astronauts to perhaps even use the knowledge gained to travel to Mars and beyond.
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“NASA: Artemis Accords.” NASA, www.nasa.gov/specials/artemis-accords/index.html.
Potter, Sean. “NASA Publishes Artemis Plan to Land First Woman, Next Man on Moon.” NASA, 4 Jan. 2021, www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-publishes-artemis-plan-to-land-first-woman-next-man-on-moon-in-2024.
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