By Leonor Huerta Cancinoastronomer, PhD in Educational and academic Physics Usach
NASA’s Artemis I mission has the green light for a second attempt to launch the impressive 100-meter-high rocket (the SLS), together with the Orion capsule this Saturday, September 3, after a failed first attempt on Monday. After 50 years of the Apollo 17 mission, the last to take astronauts to the Moon, NASA baptizes this new mission with the name “Artemis”, the Greek goddess twin sister of the god Apollo. And just as the Apollo Program put 12 men on the Moon, one of the goals of the Artemis Program is to put the first woman and the first African-American on the Moon.
The Artemis Program includes three missions: Artemis I will last 42 days, will not carry a crew, and will test the operation of all the systems that make up the Orion capsule, which will keep orbiting the Moon for two weeksto then make a distant retrograde orbit (which will take Orion 65 thousand kilometers beyond the Moon), before returning to Earth.
In 2024 the Artemis II mission will be launched, which will last 10 days and although it will carry a crew, it will not land on the Moon (it will only orbit it). With Artemis II, all the necessary systems will be tested to ensure the living conditions of the crew. And it will be in 2025 when Artemis III will mark the milestone of bringing astronauts to the lunar surface. An interesting fact is that SpaceX will participate with its Starship ship to transfer astronauts from the lunar orbiter (which will be built in modules by the European Space Agency-ESA) to the surface of the Moon.
The Artemis Project has ambitious goals: to develop technology that allows the human presence in the exploration of the Moon during the next decades (for which they will build a “base camp” on the Moon), and generate the necessary knowledge to deliver astronauts to the planet Mars in the not-too-distant future, in an effort to extend human existence beyond Earth.