How NASA is planning to land humans on the lunar surface again by 2024

NASA has started training astronauts to function in lunar conditions for its upcoming lunar mission ARTEMIS. Here’s how it has been strategised.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration is planning to send the next man and first woman to the lunar surface by the year 2024 after four decades. The last time NASA sent humans to the Moon was in 1972, during the Apollo lunar mission. The new program has been named ARTEMIS that stands for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction With the Sun.

NASA has already started shortlisting astronauts and training them to take on unforeseen challenges at the lunar surface. NASA is building up an analog environment that can mimic lunar conditions and are testing their newly built suits in specially built giant pools. Training astronauts underwater is an effective way of getting used to the sensations of working in a zero-gravity of weightless environment for long periods.

Objectives of the ARTEMIS mission

  • Investigating on the resources the lunar surface has and how Earth can utilise them
  • Use the lunar space as a base to explore Mars and conduct other planetary missions
  • Inspire a new generation that finds interest in STEM curriculum
  • Setting up Gateway; the lunar outpost around the moon
  • Broadening international and commercial partnership and demonstrate new technologies

How ARTEMIS has been shaped

  • ARTEMIS is likely to be launched next year will involve a flight without any crew to test the Orion and SLS spacecraft
  • ARTEMIS II is targeted two years later and will be the first crewed flight test
  • ARTEMIS III will land astronauts on the lunar surface, South Pole of Moon in 2024.

The mission involves various elements like lunar landers (modern human landing systems), Space Launch System (SLS), Gateway (lunar outpost around the Moon) and Orion (spacecraft for lunar missions)

Previous Missions to Moon

  • The first lunar mission was in 1959 by the erstwhile Soviet Union and involved uncrewed Luna 1 and Luna 2.
  • NASA’s Apollo 11 were conducted between 1968 and 1972.
  • Six NASA missions landed men on Moon beginning with Apollo 11 when Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk the moon in July 1969.
  • India launched its first lunar mission Chandrayan 1 in 2008. the spacecraft launched using PSLV-XL rocket was inserted into lunar orbit on November 8, 2008.
  • On November 14, 2008, India achieved a landing in a controlled manner and ejected surface soil that could be analysed for the presence of water.
  • India is planning to launch a third lunar mission by next year to boost its credentials as a low-cost space power.

The astronauts chosen for the ARTEMIS mission will wear a special suit that features advanced mobility and communications. It will feature interchangeable parts that can be configured during spacewalks.

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