Artemis II: Why NASA is sending a crew around the moon after 50 years
After more than five decades, humans are getting closer to returning to the moon.
NASA is planning to send four astronauts, including Canadian Jeremy Hansen, around the moon with the launch of the Artemis II mission set for next year.
In preparation for that, on Monday, the U.S space agency and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) will be announcing the four-person crew that will venture around the moon and back.
Monday’s event will be held at the NASA Johnson Space Center’s Ellington Field in Houston.
Canada’s Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne will be in attendance along with the CSA’s vice president, Mary Preville.
On April 3, you will meet the team of astronauts flying to the Moon on the #Artemis II mission.
These explorers will pave the way for future lunar landings and our next giant leap — human exploration of Mars. https://t.co/PRlRVEsJVz pic.twitter.com/BBlyhVJZNV
— NASA (@NASA) March 28, 2023
“The approximately 10-day flight test will pave the way for lunar surface missions, including landing the first woman and first person of color on the Moon,” NASA says on its website.
If successful, this will be the first time humans get that close to the moon since the Apollo program more than 50 years ago.
And for the first time, there will be Canadian representation, with a CSA astronaut among the Artemis II crew.
Chris Hadfield, a retired Canadian astronaut, called it a “historic” moment.
“It’s just opening the door for all the things that are going to follow – an exploration of the moon and the solar system beyond,” he told Global News in an interview Sunday.
Hadfield helped pick the four astronauts for Artemis II.
While he didn’t give away any names ahead of the announcement, Hadfield said the chosen crew has deep technical competence and a real burning desire for the mission among other qualities.
“They’re going to have to take a tremendous risk to climb onboard that enormous rocket ship that’s only ever flown once in history and take that little spaceship all the way around the moon and back,” he said.
So far, 24 men — all Americans — have visited the moon and half of those have walked on it.
The first to set foot were Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin in 1969.
The launch of Artemis II is scheduled for November 2024.
Four astronauts will travel onboard NASA’s Orion spacecraft.
The mission around the moon and back will take approximately 10 days. The return trip alone will take about four days.
Artemis II is “the first crewed flight test on the agency’s path to establishing a long-term scientific and human presence on the lunar surface,” according to NASA.
This builds on the success of Artemis I, an unmanned flight, that travelled on a 1.4 million-mile journey beyond the moon, returning to Earth after 25 days last December.
That mission took place to ensure safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery using the new Orion spacecraft so NASA is ready for Artemis II when a crew is onboard.
While the space agency plans to send four astronauts around the moon in 2024, it wants to attempt a two-person lunar landing as early as 2025, with the launch of Artemis III.
Astronauts last visited the moon in December 1972, closing out the Apollo program.
With the Artemis missions, NASA aims to “explore more of the lunar surface than ever before” and build a “sustainable presence on the Moon.”
The end goal is to go to Mars by the late 2030s.
“We will collaborate with commercial and international partners and establish the first long-term presence on the Moon,” NASA says.
“Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars.”
— with files from the Associated Press.
by Global News