Eight of the launches of rockets and a mini-station in lunar orbit by 2024. The head of Nasa presented on Thursday the timing of the program “Artemis”, which should bring back astronauts on the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.
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Jim Bridenstine has confirmed that Artemis 1 would be a mission that is not inhabited around the Moon, scheduled for 2022. Then came Artemis 2, a mission around the Moon with astronauts on board, “in 2022, approximately “.
Finally, Artemis 3 will take astronauts on the Moon, the first woman to set foot on the moon in 2024. This would be the equivalent of the Apollo 11 mission, which took Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon in July 1969.
A first woman on the Moon in 2024
These three missions Artemis will be launched by the largest rocket of all time, the Space Launch System (SLS), built in this time but whose development has lagged far behind, to the point that the first planned flight in 2022 should be postponed, according to many experts. At the top will be the capsule of the manned Orion.
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these missions “100% Nasa” another five deliveries of the elements of the “Gateway”, the mini-station in lunar orbit which will be waiting for the astronauts and will serve as point-of-step. These five launches will be carried out between 2022 and 2024 by companies space private, that Nasa rémunèrera. The station will be in a first time tiny : a element in energy/propulsion, and a small element of residential.
By 2024, the astronauts from Earth are amarreront. And then they will go down on the Moon in a vehicle called a lander, which will have been delivered to the station in advance. A portion of the lander will stay on the Moon, and another will allow them to then take off to reach the station, where the astronauts will go up in the spaceship Orion and return to Earth.
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Jim Bridenstine announced on Thursday that Nasa had chosen the firm Maxar to build the first module of the station, the one that will deliver energy, thanks to large solar panels. In the coming months, Nasa will have to choose who will build the alunisseur. All the major groups in aerospace, such as Boeing or Lockheed Martin, but also new entrants such as Blue Origin, are on the ranks.
long-lasting Presence on the Moon
Unlike the Apollo program, Nasa wants a long-lasting presence on the Moon. The station will last 15 years, and the space agency wants to, in partnership with other space agencies and private companies, build an infrastructure on the lunar soil to extract water, oxygen and hydrogen. The plan of Nasa plans 18 other launches of SLS and rockets private until 2028. And Jim Bridenstine insists on the fact that the orbital station will be open to all.
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But a major obstacle remains to be overcome : the Congress has so far shown no intention to give Nasa the extra credits it has claimed to achieve the goal of 2024.