Artemis 3 is designed to land humans on the Moon quickly, by 2024, and focus on Mars as a long-term human spaceflight goal after that. Artemis 3 preliminary short-term plan involves using both commercial rockets and NASA’s Space Launch System, the Orion crew capsule, and a lunar landing system.
Artemis 3 is the second crewed mission of the program, and the first to land astronauts on the Moon. The crew will visit the Moon’s south pole to search for water, study its surface, test technologies, and learn to work on a world outside Earth.
Artemis 3 will be the culmination of rigorous testing. A crew of four astronauts will once again travel to the Moon, and make history with the first woman and the next man to walk on its surface. The exact lunar landing site of Artemis 3 will depend on several factors, including launch date and specific science objectives. Artemis 3 astronauts will be transported by a human lander to the Moon’s surface, where they will collect a variety of samples intended to deepen our understanding of key aspects of the Moon.
NASA is aiming to launch its uncrewed lunar mission Artemis 1 in February next year, the first step in America’s plan to return humans to the Moon. The space agency had initially hoped to launch the test flight by the end of this year, with astronauts set to walk on the Moon by 2024.
NASA has finally released a rundown of the ultracool science objectives for Artemis 3, including field geology, sample collection and return, and experiments that will be flown to the Moon from Earth to see how they will turn out in a lunar environment. The science done on this mission has the potential to shed more light on the evolution of the Moon and its interactions with the Sun, Earth and other celestial bodies.
Through its current Artemis 3 program, NASA envisions sending astronauts to the lunar south pole by 2024 and eventually establishing a permanent presence on the Moon.
Public and commercial organizations within the international space community are developing a range of vehicles that will help enable human exploration missions to the Moon and Mars.
One of these is NASA’s SLS, among the most powerful rockets in the world. Its core stage holds over 2.7 million litres of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The SLS will produce 15 percent more thrust than the Saturn V rocket that brought astronauts to the Moon during the Apollo missions.
But NASA has selected Elon Musk’sStarship as the vehicle that will carry humans down from lunar orbit to the surface. Artemis 3 will see astronauts land on the lunar surface for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
After further tests, it will be wheeled out to the launchpad for a “wet dress rehearsal” in January, with the first window for launch opening in February, officials told reporters on Friday through a call.
NASA will also deploy small satellites, known as CubeSats, to perform experiments and technology demonstrations.
The microwave oven-sized CubeSat will test out a number of key technologies critical for Artemis 3, including spacecraft-to-spacecraft communication using the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
The Lunar Gateway is a small space station in lunar orbit that would function as a fuel and supply depot, a science outpost, and a waypoint for missions to and from the lunar surface. The Gateway is currently not required to be operational for the initial 2024 Moon landing. NASA is asking commercial companies to provide Gateway cargo transportation services, similar to the way it does for the International Space Station.
At least lunar regolith is hiding oxygen that astronauts, whether on Artemis 3 or future Artemis 3 missions, can possibly extract on site and use for both breathing and rocket fuel. Processes like this could be integral to Mars missions and deep space travel if they can be proven to work consistently on the Moon.
The space agency continues its efforts to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon as well as use the lessons it learns to plan a crewed trip to Mars in the 2030s.