Reporter & Producer: Viraj Gaur
Editor: Nitish Rampal
Camera Person: Shivakumar Maurya
Neil Armstrong became the first man on the Moon in 1969, as part of NASA's Apollo program, which sent 24 people to the Moon in total. In 1972, the United States stopped the program due to waning interest.
Now, 50 years later, NASA is once again sending people to the Moon with Apollo's successor, Artemis. The first mission, Artemis I, is scheduled to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday, 29 August, about 6 pm Indian Standard Time (IST).
Upcoming Artemis Missions
Artemis I, which won't have a crew on board, will be the first in a series of increasingly complex missions with a long term goal of building human presence on the Moon.
The launch will use the 322 feet tall Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which NASA calls the most powerful rocket in the world. The rocket will propel the Orion Spacecraft, designed to meet the demands of human missions to deep space.
This mission's primary goals are to "demonstrate Orion’s systems in a spaceflight environment and ensure a safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery prior to the first flight with crew on Artemis II."
Orion will spend 42 days in space, travel over 2.1 million kilometers, and return to Earth by 10 October.
Artemis 2, scheduled for 2024, is going to have a crew on board but they aren’t going to land on the moon. They’re going to do some testing in space, do a loop around the Moon and come back.
“The unique Artemis II mission profile will build upon the uncrewed Artemis I flight test by demonstrating a broad range of SLS and Orion capabilities needed on deep space missions,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager.
“This mission will prove Orion’s critical life support systems are ready to sustain our astronauts on longer duration missions ahead and allow the crew to practice operations essential to the success of Artemis III,” he added.
Artemis III will finally take human beings to the surface of the Moon once more. After that, NASA intends to launch crewed missions about once per year, with initial missions focused on establishing surface capabilities and building a 'Gateway' in orbit around the Moon.
Why Go Back to the Moon?
NASA has outlined three major reasons for why we're headed to the Moon once more:
To build on more than 50 years of exploration experience to "reignite America’s passion for discovery".
To establish an economy based around the moon and its resources "by fueling new industries, supporting job growth, and furthering the demand for a skilled workforce".
NASA will use what it learns on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap and send the first astronauts to Mars.
NASA plans to build an Artemis Base Camp on the surface and the Gateway in lunar orbit to allow robots and astronauts to explore more and conduct more research and experiments.
With Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before," it said.
"We will collaborate with commercial and international partners and establish the first long-term presence on the Moon. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars," it added.