A few days ago we told you about NASA’s space mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, and the fact that it will be used SpaceX rather than the SLS as planned since the latter will be committed to the Artemis program, but what is it about?
The NASA’s Artemis program it is an effort for place astronauts on the lunar surface and develop a continuous presence there. The program’s name comes from Artemis, the Greek moon goddess and twin sister of Apollo, whose eponymous program first brought crews to our natural satellite 50 years ago.
The Artemis program is a renaming of several previous activities that NASA was already undertaking to bring humans back to the moon. These were ordered by the President Trump’s Space Policy Directive 1 in 2019, which instructed the agency to focus on missions to the moon.
In early 2019, Vice President Mike Pence set an ambitious deadline for landing humans at the lunar south pole by 2024 and then, on May 14, 2019, give these efforts the new moniker Artemis.
Jim Bridenstine, the then administrator of the space agency, told reporters on the day of the announcement that the name represents the inclusion goal of the program, referring to the fact that NASA intended to land the first woman on the moon according to its current plans.
“I have a daughter who is 11 years old and I want her to be able to see herself in the same role as the next women who will go to the moon. [..]”
Bridenstine said on that occasion.
How the Artemis program is structured
Under the umbrella of the Artemis program there are several components, the first being the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, a station around the moon that would extend humanity’s presence in space e it would provide a platform for scientific experiments and trips to the lunar surface.
The Gateway it will be brought into lunar orbit by the Space Launch System (SLS) of the agency, a new gigantic rocket that NASA has just finished developing and which, as I told you at the beginning of the article, it was also thought to be used for Europe Clipper.
Crews of four would access the station using the Orion space capsule and remain there for periods of 30 to 90 days.
Part of the old Trump administration’s drive towards the moon included an expanded role for private aerospace companies, which are meant to develop hardware and potentially kickstart a lunar economy.
There NASA had assigned $ 45.5 million to 11 US companies, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, pto develop landers that could take astronauts to the lunar surface; the choice fell on SpaceX, which did not make Bezos particularly happy, as can be read from recent news.
Nine small businesses have also been tasked with delivering robotic spacecraft to our natural satellite in order to collect data and conduct research, with some taking an interest in extracting lunar resources such as water, which can be broken down into its hydrogen constituents. and oxygen and converted to rocket fuel.
At this point it is difficult to say how many of these impressive plans will actually be implemented. Cost estimates are still being refined and the overall price of Artemis remains unknown.
The Apollo program budget ended up being a total of $ 23.6 billion in 1973, according to NASA, the equivalent of more than $ 136 billion today, meaning that each Apollo moon landing costs about $ 22. 6 billion dollars.
To date much of the work is still in progress, but at least there is a semblance of what the Artemis program should be in its final stage, this without counting the importance of the fact that will land the first woman and the first black person on the moon. As for further details, I refer you to NASA official site, where you can find a PDF with all the information released to date.
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