Tune in to CNN for live coverage from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida through Monday morning’s launch. Space correspondents Kristin Fisher and Rachel Crane, along with a team of experts, will provide a moment-by-moment account of the launch.
When the unmanned Artemis I mission launches on Monday, August 29, it will be just the first step into the future of space exploration.
The last manned landing on the moon, Apollo 17, was nearly 50 years ago. The Apollo mission’s last record for the longest manned deep space flight still stands: 12.5 days.
Through the Artemis program, which aims to land humans on the untapped south pole of the Moon and eventually Mars, astronauts will embark on lengthy deep space missions that will test all the limits of exploration.
“We are going back to the moon to learn to live, work and survive,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said at a news conference earlier this month.
“How do you keep people alive in those hostile conditions? And we’re going to learn how to use the resources on the moon to build things into the future as we go — not a quarter of a million miles away, not a three-day journey — but millions.” and millions of miles away on a journey of months and months, if not years.”
NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik discussed the importance of using lunar exploration as a way to prepare for landing on Mars during a NASA briefing on Saturday.
If you’re camping in the Alaskan wilderness, you wouldn’t rely solely on new gear and shoes that haven’t been broken in yet, he said. Mars is also not the place to try out new gear for the first time.
“We’re going to go to some local places that are a little closer first,” Bresnik said. “Then you can come home if your shoelaces break or something like that.”
Astronauts have lived and worked for more than 20 years aboard the International Space Station, which orbits about 254 miles above the planet in low Earth orbit. Their experiences, which can last from six months to nearly a year, have revealed how the microgravity environment affects the human body.
“Every day I personally spent on the space station, I thought of it as walking on Mars,” said NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, chief of the Astronaut Office at Johnson Space Center in Houston. “That’s why we’re up there. We’re trying to make life on Earth better and we’re trying to expand humanity into our solar system.”
On Artemis II, scheduled for 2024, astronauts will follow a similar path to Artemis I – around the moon at a greater distance than all Apollo missions. Artemis III, scheduled for late 2025, will land the first woman and the next man at the moon’s south pole, where permanently shadowed areas could harbor ice and other resources that could support astronauts on long moonwalks.
“Our moon basically serves as a celestial library next door,” said Jacob Bleacher, NASA’s chief research scientist. “Moon rocks and moon ice actually serve as the books of this library. We can use them to reveal how the solar system evolved. This can really help us understand what happened here on Earth as life took hold. in the solar system.”
The Artemis program involves establishing a sustainable human presence on the moon and placing a lunar orbiting outpost called the Gateway.
“We want to stay on the lunar surface and learn on the lunar surface so we can get the most science and know how to get to Mars,” said Jim Free, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. “On Apollo, we did incredible science at the equator. This time we’re going to the South Pole.”
Over time, the SLS rocket will evolve, Nelson said. By the time the Artemis IV mission rolls to the launch pad to dock with the Gateway later this decade, the rocket will be larger and even more powerful than the version used for Artemis I.
Artemis I is a test mission, Nelson emphasized. It serves as the inaugural flight of the Space Launch System Rocket, the Orion spacecraft and its heat shield, as well as protective gear for future astronauts and measuring radiation exposure.
The lessons learned from Artemis I, which will be gathered when it crashes in October, could inform the next steps of the Artemis program.
Currently, the first five Artemis missions are planned, and NASA is working on the details for missions six to 10, Free said.
Teams at NASA “go through the broad exploration objectives and then narrow down to an architecture that takes us to Mars,” Free said. “We look forward to reviewing that architecture, decisions and processes early next year.”
“With the Artemis I launch Monday, NASA is at a historic turning point, poised to begin the most important series of scientific and human exploration missions in a generation,” said Bhavya Lal, NASA associate administrator for technology, policy and strategy.