Back To The Moon

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Photo Credit: NASA | The Apollo 17 launch

Eram Ashir, Science Writer

50 years ago, a twelve-day space mission would soon make history with the longest moonwalk and longest moon landing, while also bringing back the largest moon sample to Earth. The name of the mission was the Apollo Mission. The Apollo Program was the last space program which sent manned missions to the moon, and it was considered an engineering marvel of its time.

On December 7, 1972, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt boarded the Apollo 17 spacecraft and traveled 238,900 miles to the moon. This was the final flight of the Apollo program and the last humans to walk on the moon. They returned to earth on December 19, 1972. Humanity never went back to the moon. (NASA)

However, NASA’s Artemis program wants to change that and push human spaceflight farther than ever before. They have partnered with the European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency to start the Artemis Program in December of 2017. The program’s mission is to return astronauts to the moon by 2024, and to set Mars as a long-term goal after that. (NASA, Royal Museums Greenwich) 

The Artemis Program consists of a series of three space missions. (Royal Museums Greenwich).  Artemis 1 is a non-crewed mission that will go around the moon in order to test Artemis’s ability to safely carry astronauts in future missions. The mission’s launch date was delayed to November 2022 due to Hurricane Ian. Following this, Artemis 2 will be a crewed flight beyond the moon which is planned to launch in 2024, and will take humans further into space. Finally, Artemis 3 will be a crewed mission which is planned to launch in 2025. This final stage will carry the first female astronaut and the first astronaut of color to the moon, where they will spend one week performing scientific experiments and collecting data on the moon’s surface. 

The Artemis Program will use the Artemis Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on its missions. This rocket is the most powerful rocket in the world, and it is designed to send humans to deep space. On the Artemis SLS rocket, is the Orion spacecraft, which is the crew module and the reentry capsule. This rocket and spacecraft are paving the way for future rockets and spacecrafts that will be used for a manned mission to Mars. (NASA)

The Artemis program is pivotal because it represents a significant advancement in space exploration and spaceflight. It will bring us back to the moon for the first time in decades. This program represents the beginning of a new era in space exploration, while also being an important stepping stone to create a permanent colony on the Moon and sending astronauts to Mars.