The predictions for 2030 are big: a return to the Moon and a satellite colonization of Earth and, who knows, even Mars. The kickoff for these great achievements will be launched later this month, with the launch of the Artemis I mission, next Monday (29), at 9:30 AM.
Despite being an unmanned test mission, Artemis I is the first step toward a human return to the Moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Moon colonization is central to Mars exploration, as Earth’s natural satellite operates with a bit of a layover for long trips to the Red Planet .
According to partners Artemis NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), the program will shed light on what has changed in space exploration over the past 50 years. A lot has changed since 1972.
Vision and technology, for example, are more advanced. Artemis plans to have humans on the moon in 2025 and travel in the coming years will establish a more permanent colonization.
“Initially, the astronauts will go to the moon for a week, but in the future, members of the Artemis missions will stay there for a month or two. At some point, there will be permanent settlements,” said Jürgen Schlutz, one of the astronauts. Engineer at ESA.
The Artemis mission will also mark the first walk on the moon by a woman and person of color.
What is the Artemis program?
The August 29 launch is the first in a series of six missions to the Moon planned through 2028. With no astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft, Artemis I will essentially be a safety test for future manned travel.
Started in 2017 and formed by NASA, the European Space Agency, and space agencies from several countries, the Artemis program is part of efforts to revitalize space programs. “We want to expand human access to space. The Moon is our closest neighbor. Despite the research potential, Artemis aims, above all, to conquer our first anchor in space,” emphasizes Schlutz.
NASA named the program after the twin sister of Apollo, the goddess of the moon in Greek mythology.
The Orion spacecraft is scheduled to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 7:30 a.m. (local time) on August 29. It will spend between 26 and 42 days in space, at least six of which will be in far-moon orbit, before dropping into the Pacific Ocean.
According to Schlutz, the purpose of the Artemis I is to demonstrate the safety of Orion and its space launch system. Orion is a partially reusable spacecraft equipped with solar panels and an automatic docking system, along with primary and secondary thrusters that will propel the force out of Earth’s orbit and propel it toward the Moon.
The European Space Agency, along with other European companies such as AirBus, have played a pivotal role in developing technology for the spacecraft, which can accommodate up to six crew members.
On its maiden voyage, Orion will carry two mannequins, Helga and Zohar, equipped with radiometric sensors.
In the long term, Artemis’ goal is to colonize Mars. Schlutz says the moon is an important step forward because it will be a kind of outpost for Mars explorers. Expectations are that by the end of this decade, the first lunar landing platform, called Campo Base Artemis, will be completed.
The Chinese National Space Administration and the Russian space agency Roscosmos also have plans to build their own lunar bases by the early 2030s.
At Artemis, the lunar base will support missions for up to two months and will be used as a forward outpost to improve technologies and living conditions. The trip to it takes less than a week. Something impressive considering the fact that only 200 years ago European explorers took about four weeks to reach the Americas.
“The environment on the Moon is harsh. Our biggest challenge is to protect the astronauts from radiation. We want to build housing units with external regolith bricks.” [poeira lunar] to block radiation,” says Aiden Cowley, materials scientists at the European Space Agency.
Resource management, radiation protection, and energy harvesting systems will be tested on the Moon before it is transported to Mars, whose six-month journey will take place. Therefore, the moon proves to be the perfect place to test these technologies.
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