The launch of Artemis I on November 16 ushered in a new era in space exploration. This time we return to the Moon to stay. That’s the purpose of NASA’s new space program: to build a lunar base and camp where astronauts can live and do science. And according to Howard Hu, director of the first mission of the program and who is in charge of the development of the Orion spacecraft that will house the astronauts during their flight, maintains that in the next ten years our species will achieve the milestone of establishing itself permanently in the surface of another world.
The science and other stuff to know
The Orion spacecraft was launched on the 16th from the Kennedy Space Center, and the preliminary results are enormously encouraging for the community.
The first phase of the Artemis program is dedicated to piloting, safety and efficacy tests. The second mission is expected in 2024 and will carry a crew on board to complete lunar orbits before returning to Earth. If the wind is right, by 2025, the Artemis program will bring a crew that will include a woman and a Black person to the surface of the Moon. After more than five decades, we will have set foot on the Moon again. This time, to stay.
In an interview with the BBC, director Hu assured that this “is the first step we are taking for long-term deep space exploration, not only for the United States but for the world.”
The Orion is designed to have the capabilities to get a crew to the Moon and return them home safely. The spacecraft is currently in distant orbit with the Moon. After completing an eccentric orbit, it is expected to return to Earth and re-enter at more than 38,000 km/h (24,000 mph). The enormous friction will raise the temperature of the capsule to more than 3,000°C.
Inside it, there is a dummy that is being monitored to give researchers information about the possible physiological consequences of future astronauts who participate in manned flight.
The results of this first mission will determine how soon we can establish ourselves on the Moon. For the moment, Artemis I has given nothing but good news. But we still have to wait until December 11, when the Orion ship re-enters the atmosphere to say the last word.
The significance of settling on the Moon stems from the fact that doing science in situ there will allow us to discover the potential of the lunar surface, from which we could extract water and use it for astronaut survival as well as fuel for rockets that leave for further destinations, such as Mars. “We are going to send people to the surface, and they are going to live on that surface and do science,” Hu said.
Hu concludes by reflecting on this new era of space exploration and migration: “It’s really going to be very important for us to learn a little bit beyond our Earth’s orbit and then take a big step when we go to Mars. And the Artemis missions help us They allow us to have a sustainable platform and transportation system that allows us to learn to operate in that deep space environment.”