Humans have begun the countdown to their return to the Moon after more than half a century. As 2025 approaches, the year set for the Artemis III mission, NASA continues to lay out details about a Moon landing in a region near the satellite’s south pole.
Four astronauts (two of whom will be a woman and one person of color) depart from Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard the Space Launch System (SLS). “The crew will be selected from among the most diverse astronauts in history, each with unique skills and intensive training,” the space agency said in a statement. “Artemis III will be one of the most complex undertakings of human engineering and ingenuity in the history of deep space exploration to date.”
Among them there is a woman and a man of a race
The crew would be selected from “the most diverse corps in history”.
First, the crew will launch into Earth orbit, where they will check and adjust systems on Orion’s solar arrays. Next, a powerful boost from SLS’s intermediate cryogenic propulsion stage will help Orion perform a translunar injection maneuver to the Moon.
Over several days, the crew will travel to the Moon and perform corrective engine burns to counteract the lunar gravitational field. At the right time and place, Orion will perform a series of two engine activations to place the spacecraft into Near-Rectilinear Halo Lunar Orbit (NRHO). Out of hundreds of possible orbits, NASA selected NRHO to achieve the long-term goals of Artemis.
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NRHO will provide nearly continuous communication with Earth and access to sites all over the Moon. Being gravitationally balanced between the Earth and the Moon, this orbit would maximize fuel efficiency. In future missions, NASA and its partners will assemble the Gateway lunar space station at NRHO to serve as the operations center for the Artemis mission.
landing on space x starship
NASA has selected SpaceX to provide the human landing system that will carry Artemis III astronauts from lunar orbit to Orion to the lunar surface and back. SpaceX plans to use a unique concept of operations to increase the overall efficiency of its lander. After a series of tests, SpaceX will carry out at least one uncrewed demonstration mission in which Starship will land on the lunar surface. When Starship meets all NASA requirements and high crew safety standards, it will be ready for its first Artemis mission.
Prior to the crewed launch, SpaceX will launch a storage depot into Earth orbit. A series of reusable tankers will transport the propellant to storage depots to fuel the manned landing system. Starship’s uncrewed human landing system will then launch into Earth orbit and rendezvous with the storage depot to refill its tanks, before firing a translunar injection engine and traveling to NRHO for approximately six days, where you will find Artemis. III’s crew will await.
When both ships arrive at NRHO, Orion will dock with Starship’s Human Lunar Landing System in preparation for the first expedition to the lunar surface in the 21st century. Once the crew and their supplies are ready, two astronauts will board Starship and two will remain on Orion. Orion will undock and move away from Starship to remain in NRHO for approximately one orbit of the Moon, which will take approximately 6.5 days. This will coincide with the duration of the campaign on the surface, so that when Orion completes its orbit, the two-person crew will complete their work on the surface in time to rejoin the spacecraft.
NASA has set its sights on locations around the South Pole for the Artemis era of human lunar exploration. The extreme and harsh conditions make it a difficult place for Earthlings to land, live and work, but the region’s unique features hold the promise of unprecedented scientific discoveries in deep space. Using advanced technology, including autonomous systems, the Starship crew will land at a carefully selected location within a 100-meter radius.
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The first task of the surface crew after landing will be to ensure that all systems are ready to stay on the lunar surface. They would then rest, eat and recharge for a full day before the expedition.
work on the moon
During their stay on the Moon, the astronauts would conduct scientific work inside the Starship and carry out a series of Moon walks before leaving the Starship to explore the surface. Astronauts will wear advanced space suits, exit an airlock and descend into the Starship’s elevator. NASA has selected Axiom Space to supply the Artemis III surface suit and spacewalk system. These suits will give astronauts the speed and flexibility to explore more landscapes than in previous lunar missions.
During their Moonwalk, astronauts will take photos and videos, study geology, retrieve samples and collect other data to meet specific science goals. The view of the lunar south pole region will be very different from the pictures taken on the Apollo missions in the equatorial region of the Moon. The Sun will be just above the horizon, casting long, dark shadows over the terrain, which the crew will explore using headlamps and navigation tools. The information and materials collected by the Artemis III astronauts will enhance our understanding of the mysterious region of the South Pole, the Moon and our Solar System.
Mission control teams on the ground will be in contact with the crew as they transmit what they see, hear and feel. With mission coverage and advanced communications technology with the ability to send high-quality images and video back to the ground, they will share a unique new human experience with the world.
When their mission on the surface is complete, the two astronauts will lift off from the lunar surface and return to NRHO on Starship to join their crews on Orion. After docking, the crew will spend up to five days in orbit, transferring samples between vehicles and preparing for the return trip to Earth.
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When they reach the optimal NRHO starting point with all four astronauts back in Orion, they will undock and ignite Orion’s engines, launching the spacecraft past the Moon and letting it cruise toward Earth. The crew will travel at approximately 40,000 kilometers per hour during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. With the help of 11 parachutes, the ship will fall into the Pacific Ocean, where it will be recovered along with its crew with the help of the US Coast Guard and Navy.