NASA plans to have astronauts work and live on the Moon for up to two months within a decade.
NASA’s Artemis rocket go racing for the moon this week, sending a next-generation capsule on an uncrewed journey around the moon and back 50 years after the last Apollo lunar mission.
The US space agency’s much-delayed and highly-anticipated launch from Florida has finally launched Apollo’s successor program, Artemis, which aims to return astronauts to the lunar surface this decade and establish a lasting base there as a springboard to future human exploration of Mars. .
And now NASA has said the program is actually a stepping stone to sending regular crews to the moon – and even for them to stay longer.
He plans to establish what he calls Base Camp Artemis, which will have “a modern lunar cabin and even a mobile home” that will allow astronauts to stay for up to two months.
A spokesperson said: “NASA will build on the momentum of this human return mission in four years and plans to send a crew to the moon approximately once a year thereafter.
“To give astronauts a place to live and work on the moon, the agency’s Artemis Base Camp concept includes a modern lunar cabin, a rover, and even a mobile home.
“Early missions will include short stays on the surface, but as Base Camp evolves, the goal is to allow the crew to stay on the lunar surface for up to two months at a time.”
The three-week Artemis I mission that lifted off this week involves a 25-day Orion flight taking the capsule about 60 miles (97 km) from the lunar surface before flying about 40,000 miles (64,400 km) beyond from the moon and loop back to earth.
The capsule is scheduled to run aground on December 11.
While no astronauts were on board, this mission is a precursor to the return of humans to the moon, more than five decades later Apollo’s landings. Twelve astronauts walked on the moon during six Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972.
After decades with NASA focused on low Earth orbit with space shuttles and the International Space Station, Artemis I signals a major shift in direction for the agency’s post-Apollo human spaceflight program.
Named after the ancient Greek goddess of the hunt – and twin sister of Apollo – Artemis aims to bring astronauts back to the surface of the moon as early as 2025, promising to bring with her “the first woman and the first person color” to walk on the moon.
Kathy Lueders, Associate Administrator for Human Spaceflight at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, said: “With increased demand for access to the moon, we are developing the technologies to achieve an unprecedented human and robotic presence at 240 000 miles from home.
“Our experience on the moon this decade will prepare us for an even greater adventure in the universe – the human exploration of Mars.”