Artemis I heading for the moon will pave the way to Mars

Look to CNN for live coverage from Kennedy Space Center in Florida leading up to the Monday morning launch. Space correspondents Kristin Fisher and Rachel Crane will bring us instant reports on the launch with a team of experts.

When the Artemis I uncrewed mission launches on Monday, August 29, it’s just the first step into the future of space exploration.

The last crewed landing on the Moon, Apollo 17, dates back almost 50 years. The last Apollo mission record for the longest crewed spaceflight still stands: 12.5 days.

Through the Artemis program, which aims to land humans at the uncharted lunar south pole and eventually Mars, astronauts will participate in long-duration space missions that will test all the limits of exploration.

“We’re going back to the moon to learn how to live, how to work, how to survive,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at a news conference earlier this month.

“How do you keep humans alive in these harsh conditions? And we’re going to learn how to use the moon’s resources so that we can build things in the future as we go – not a quarter of a million miles away, not a three-day trip – but millions and millions of miles over months and months, even years of travel.”

NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik discussed the importance of using lunar exploration as a way to prepare for landing on Mars during a NASA briefing on Saturday.

When camping in the Alaskan wilderness, you don’t just rely on new gear and footwear that haven’t been broken in yet, he said. Mars is also not the ideal place to test new equipment for the first time.

“We’ll go to places a bit closer first,” Bresnik said. “So you can come home if your shoelaces break or something.”

Astronauts have lived and worked aboard the International Space Station, which orbits about 254 miles above the planet in low Earth orbit, for more than 20 years. Their experiments, which can last between six months and nearly a year, revealed how the microgravity environment affects the human body.

“Every day that I personally spent on the space station, I thought of as walking on Mars,” said NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, chief of the astronaut office at Johnson Space Center in Houston. “That’s why we’re up there. We’re trying to improve life on Earth and we’re trying to expand humanity into our solar system.”

READ MORE: Artemis I in numbers

On Artemis II, scheduled for 2024, astronauts will follow a similar path to Artemis I – circling the moon at a wider distance than any of the Apollo missions. Artemis III, scheduled for late 2025, will land the first woman and next man at the moon’s south pole, where permanently shadowed regions may harbor ice and other resources that could sustain astronauts for long periods of time. walk on the moon.

Meet Commander Moonikin Campos, the dummy who goes further than any astronaut

“Our moon essentially serves as a celestial library right next to it,” said Jacob Bleacher, NASA’s chief exploration scientist. “Moon rocks and moon ice essentially serve as books for this library. We can use them to begin to reveal how the solar system evolved. It can really help us better understand what was happening here on Earth when life took place. foot. in the solar system.”

The Artemis program involves establishing a sustained human presence on the moon and setting up an orbiting lunar outpost called the Gateway.

This illustration shows the design of SpaceX's Starship human lander that will carry NASA's first astronauts to the surface of the moon through the Artemis program.

“We want to stay on the lunar surface and learn on the lunar surface so that we can get the most out of science and know how we’re going to get to Mars,” said Jim Free, associate administrator of the Missions Development Branch for Mars. NASA exploration systems. “On Apollo, we did amazing science at the equator. This time we’re going to the South Pole.”

Over time, the SLS rocket will evolve, Nelson said. By the time the Artemis IV mission arrives on the launch pad later this decade to dock with the bridge, the rocket will be taller and even more powerful than the version used for Artemis I.

Artemis I will deliver the first deep space biology experiment

Artemis I is a test mission, Nelson pointed out. It serves as the maiden flight of the Space Launch System rocket, the Orion spacecraft and its heat shield, as well as protective gear for future astronauts and a measure of radiation exposure.

A series of science experiments and technology demonstrations inside Orion and in flight outside on small satellites called CubeSats, will gather additional data about the space environment that future Artemis astronauts will face.

Lessons learned from Artemis I, which will be collected when it launches in October, could inform the next steps of the Artemis program.

Currently, the first five Artemis missions have been planned and NASA is working on presenting details for missions six through ten, Free said.

NASA teams “go through the big exploration goals and then narrow down to an architecture that takes us to Mars,” Free said. “We plan to have this architecture, these decisions and this process in place early next year.”

The goal of landing humans on Mars by 2033 was set by the Obama administration, and NASA administrators have maintained that goal ever since.

“With the launch of Artemis I on Monday, NASA is at a historic inflection point, about to begin the most significant series of scientific and human exploration missions in a generation,” said Bhavya Lal, associate administrator. from NASA for technology, policy and strategy.


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