NASA’s Artemis programme is a series of missions that aims to land the first woman and first person of colour on the Moon to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. If successful, the Artemis programme will reestablish a human presence on the Moon for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
As a part of the project, NASA plans to build an Artemis Base Camp on Moon’s surface and the Gateway in lunar orbit that will facilitate human missions to Mars in the future.
Three Artemis stages are currently in progress:
- Artemis I, an uncrewed test flight around and beyond the Moon, rescheduled to launch on 2 September 2022;
- Artemis II, a crewed flight beyond the Moon which will take humans the farthest they’ve ever been in space;
- Artemis III mission will land astronauts on the Moon to spend a week performing scientific studies on the lunar surface.
The NASA spacecraft that will carry the crew from Earth to lunar orbit and back is called Orion, and it’s currently under development. Interesting that in mythology, Orion is the hunting companion of Artemis.
In the beginning, NASA’s initial goal was to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024. However, this date was pushed back to no sooner than 2025, while NASA Inspector General Paul Martin stated that the crewed lunar landing will likely slip to 2026 at the earliest.
The Artemis programme was named after the mythological Greek goddess of the Moon and the twin sister of Apollo. Thus, the connection to the mission that sent people to the Moon for the first time 50 years ago is obvious.