Yes, people will return to the moon.  All you need to know about Artemis

The American flag stuck in the lunar soil and astronauts in white suits are a staple of pop culture reality. Videos, images and MTV logos. It’s just one of those moments in human history that everyone knows about. However, it is worth realizing that the last time people walked on the moon was in 1972! However, NASA is about to break this dry period of lunar exploration, and this time words are followed by deeds. The Artemis program, as we’re talking about it, is already seriously behind, at least six years, but that doesn’t change the fact that the work is still moving forward. Recently, NASA, for example, presented new spacesuits of the Artemis generation.

The name Artemis is associated with the previous NASA program that took people to the moon. Artemis, or Artemis, according to Greek mythology, is the goddess of the hunt, fertility, as well as the moon and the twin sister of the god Apollo.

Unlike the Apollo program, according to which people flew to the moon in 1969, the project includes not only Americans, but also Europeans – or, more precisely, 22 countries associated with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japanese (Japanese Space Agency – JAXA) and Canadians ( Canadian Space Agency – CSA). In addition, countries such as Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea will collaborate on the program.

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People return to the moon. Here are the five pillars of the Artemis Program.

program Artemis It consists of five elements, not counting the creation of the necessary infrastructure on the ground, which is indicated by the sixth element.

The first is responsible for getting into the Space Launch System (SLS). This is NASA’s rocket building program. The result is a huge rocket, about 100 meters (depending on the mission configuration – manned or unmanned) based on technology derived from that used in the shuttles. The two smaller, solid-propellant rockets on either side of the main rocket are the same ones used on the Space Shuttle. The complete set even looks like a shuttle.

The first unmanned flight – under the name Artemis 1, took place in November 2022. Ultimately, NASA intends to hand over production to two aviation tycoons, Northrop Grumman and Boeing. The whole will be called “deep teleportation” – (system) transportation in deep space. According to NASA requirements, manufacturers will have to supply the rockets for ten spaceflights after the US space agency hands them the baton, starting with the Artemis 5 mission (more on that later).

Space Launch System (NASA/Joel Koski/Public Domain)

The second part of the Artemis program is the US-European Orion spacecraft. The American defense, aerospace and aerospace magnate Lockheed Martin, which will build the manned unit, and a division of the European consortium Airbus, called Defense and Space, are participating in its construction program, whose task will be, in cooperation with the European Space Agency, to create a service module (it can also be called an engine unit) .

An important feature of Orion is that its crew module will be reusable. Its volume will be 50 percent. It is larger than the Apollo ship, and there will be room for six people on board. A distinctive feature of this spacecraft will be the solar panels that will be deployed on the sides and which will provide electricity. The control panel will not be replete with a myriad of buttons, switches and knobs as on the Apollo ship, but will be based on touch screens, and its design will be modeled after the cockpit of the Boeing 737 Dreamliner.

Artist’s impression of the Orion spacecraft (NASA/Public Domain)

It will be able to handle long-duration missions in deep space (that is, beyond lunar orbit) with up to 21 days of active crew members and 6 months of what is known as “rest” for the astronauts. One can guess that it is a form of hibernation where the crew will be during the many-month journey to Mars. Note, however, that the word “hibernation” here is not a medical term, it is just to give an idea of ​​how the crew will travel long distances in space. During this time, vital crew functions will be maintained by another module, such as the proposed Deep Space Habitat (DSH). DSH is currently only in the conceptual stage, but it is already known that it will take the form of a cylindrical unit attached to an Orion ship.

The third element of the Artemis program is the proudly looking Lunar Gateway – a space station in lunar orbit, intended to be the work of all program participants. It will serve as a potential transition point for astronauts flying from Earth from the Orion spacecraft to the lunar lander. In principle, it will not be a successor to the International Space Station (ISS), but a bridgehead for flights to the Moon, and especially to distant Mars.

The Lunar Gateway will be a solar-powered communications center, science laboratory, and short-term astronaut housing unit, all rolled into one. It will also serve as a storage space for lunar rovers and unmanned robotic vehicles. All four of the previously mentioned space agencies involved in the Artemis project, as well as commercial partners, will take part in its creation.

Artist’s impression of the Orion spacecraft approaching the Lunar Gateway (NASA/Public Domain)

The fourth part of the Artemis program is the Starship HLS (Human Landing System), which will ferry astronauts from the Orion spacecraft or the Lunar Gateway space station to the lunar surface and back. Its construction is being carried out by the winner of the NASA tender – SpaceX Elon Musk.

Starship HLS is a version of SpaceX’s spacecraft, optimized for operation in lunar orbit and on the moon itself. Unlike the Apollo landers or other previously proposed HLS projects, in this case the entire spacecraft would land on the Moon and then be launched from it. Its notable feature is that it will have no heat shield or flight control surfaces, for the simple reason that it will not re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere after liftoff from Earth. It will only transfer the crew between the Lunar Gateway station and the lunar surface.

Manned Landing System (Steve Jurvetson / Public Domain)

The fifth part of the program is the Artemis Base Camp, or simply the Artemis Moon Base, which will include stationary and mobile living units and a lunar rover. It will be located near the south pole of the moon. Why is there? It must be remembered that the main component of Artemis’ base will be finding and extracting resources from the Moon itself. This is water ice, that is, hydrogen (an excellent rocket fuel) and oxygen (in addition to the obvious suitability for breathing, also useful rocket fuel in liquid form), minerals or building materials made from lunar dust or rocks.

Image of Artemis base on the Moon (NASA/Public Domain)

This will greatly ease rocket launches from Earth with supplies and crews, and may also allow astronauts to stay on the Moon for a longer period. For starters, the camp would be relatively small and would allow for missions lasting a week or two, which is still much longer than the time the Apollo astronauts spent on the moon. Over time, NASA hopes to keep a crew on the surface of the natural satellite for up to two months. Current plans call for a lunar cabin, an open rover similar to those used on the Apollo missions, and a type of camper that provides mobility, allowing astronauts to live and work away from base for days or weeks.

In addition, a curiosity worth noting is the International Convention of Artemis. It was concluded at the initiative of the United States, and its signatories are 23 countries (including Poland, or, for example, Nigeria or Colombia that do not participate in the Artemis program) and one territory. It is not directly related to the program, although it was included on the occasion of this project – hence the name. The document says the agreement includes a commitment to the non-military nature and peaceful exploration of the moon, Mars and beyond. However, other space powers such as Russia and China have not signed it, which unfortunately makes it a curiosity on paper.

Mission to the Moon, or Apollo on steroids.

Returning to the topic, it must be recognized that the term “Apollo on steroids”, applied to the Constellation program, which was, so to speak, the first version of what it is today Artemis, fits like a glove! Real international cooperation on the main elements of the program and its scope makes it possible to seriously talk about the next breakthrough in the field of manned space exploration. Especially since the International Space Station is nearing the end of its useful life.

The scale of the program is best illustrated by the fact that a visit to the moon here is only the first stop on the way to the real goal, which is Mars. She expresses it statement A NASA astronaut who’s been to space three times, Stephen Swanson:

The real destination is Mars. And we will use the Moon as a testing ground, because the journey to Mars is a very difficult task. The whole trip there would take about three years, and we must remember that from a mission to Mars you can’t come home early in case of an emergency. It’s a one-way trip for seven or eight months. Then you have to spend 15 months on the Red Planet to get it into the correct position relative to Earth, so that the next seven or eight months of your return would be possible. On the Moon, we might be able to exploit the resources that are there and use them to produce fuel to go to Mars.

Before that happens, there will be more Artemis missions to the moon. The aforementioned Artemis 1 was held last year. Artemis 2 is scheduled for November 2024, is scheduled to last 10 days and, most importantly, will include a manned flight around the Moon. If all goes according to plan, this will be the first human visit to our natural satellite in 52 years!

Artemis 3 – scheduled for December 2025, is scheduled to last a month and two people are scheduled to land on the moon, while the other two crew members will remain in orbit around the moon. Until 2030, three more Artemis 4, 5 and 6 missions are planned, each lasting about a month, as part of which other items of equipment, such as modules of the Lunar Gateway station or vehicles for moving around the Moon, will be delivered to the Moon.

Artemis logo (NASA/YouTube)

The patroness of the program is a Greek goddess, so it’s time for women to be on the moon.

Most importantly, NASA already announceThat the mission to take people to the moon will also include a woman for the first time. Although it is not yet known who will be chosen, it is likely that it will be one of the NASA astronauts who have already worked aboard the International Space Station. In December 2020, NASA announced the Artemis astronaut team, which included nine women and nine men.

The coming years will certainly be very exciting in terms of manned space exploration! As time goes by, we will learn more and more details, which you will definitely be able to read about on Spider’s Web, and if you would like to learn more about the progress that has already been made on the Artemis program, you can visit Program official blog on the NASA website.

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