The American National Aeronautics and Space Agency, more popular as NASA will be sending the next batch of humans to the Moon by 2024. The programme is known as the Artemis. NASA plans to put the second batch of humans, a man and a woman at the South Pole of the Moon. The same area where India attempted to land the unmanned Chndrayaan II. The project is named after Artemis, the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology. The final aim is to learn from this mission and prepare to land humans on Mars in future. NASA aims to achieve the following during this mission: –
- Find and use water and other critical resources needed for long-term exploration.
- Investigate the Moon’s mysteries and learn more about the earth and the universe.
- Learn how to live and operate on the surface of another celestial body where astronauts are just three days from home.
- Prove the technologies needed before sending astronauts on missions to Mars, which can take up to three years for a round trip.
The Artemis Programme comprises Orion space craft which will hold the humans and their cargo. The Orion weighs 27 tons. The Orion will be launched towards the Moon using the Space Launch System or SLS which is the deep space exploration vehicle being developed by NASA along with its partners.
NASA has selected Boeing to build 10 SLS core stages and up to eight Exploration Upper Stages. NASA may also place an order for up to 10 additional SLS core stages in future. Boeing is also the prime contractor for the avionics and variations of the upper stages. The rockets are designed in manner that they can evolve and upgrade from mission to mission till they are fit for use for transporting humans and material to mars and back.
Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing’s Space and Launch division said, ” We greatly appreciate the confidence NASA has placed in Boeing to deliver this deep space rocket and their endorsement of our team’s approach to meeting this unprecedented technological and manufacturing challenge in support of NASA’s Artemis program. Together with a nationwide network of engaged and innovative suppliers we will deliver the first core stage to NASA this year for Artemis I. This team is already implementing lessons learned and innovative practices from the first build to produce a second core stage more efficiently than the first. We are committed to continuous improvement as they execute on this new contract.”