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  • Writer's pictureShreysi Singh

Artemis: The Future

History of Artemis:

  • NASA’s Artemis program was formed in December 2017, upon the orders of the President of America, to lead humanity to the moon and prepare them for the exploration of Mars. The program envisions sending humans from the Moon (250,000 miles) to Mars (140 million miles).

  • The plan for the moon was twofold, which included human landing on lunar ground by 2024 with acceptable technical risks while simultaneously working toward sustainable lunar exploration.

  • With the powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft nearing the end of testing and development, the agency has the foundation needed to send humans back to lunar orbit. In preparation for the safest and earliest possible lunar landing, NASA seeks to make full use of early Artemis missions through additional testing for Orion and the Human Landing System (HLS) when possible.

  • Artemis is the mythological Greek goddess of the moon and the twin sister of Apollo. The name is intended to link this program with the Apollo missions that first landed humans on the Moon over 50 years ago.

  • The crewed spacecraft is called Orion, one of the most recognizable constellations in the sky. In classical mythology, Orion is the hunting companion of Artemis.

Why was Artemis made?

NASA sees this mission as a gateway to establishing a lunar settlement, meaning to establish bases in both lunar orbit and the moon's surface. It also aims to lay a foundation for other space agencies.


Objectives:

The mission seeks to land the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface, exhibiting equality. As it is a high-end project, the technology formed here might be helpful in more space missions. The program has made a few partnerships, such as collaborating with SpaceX and Boeing. The basis of the project is to extend their trips from days to weeks and possibly months and gather all the new information, may it be scientific, economic, or habitable knowledge.


How Will NASA Reach the Lunar Surface?

Orion is the command module needed to transport the astronauts through space. The Orion module will dock with Gateway, and from here the astronauts will transfer into the lunar landing module.

Gateway is a small space station that, once built, will orbit the Moon. It's designed to be a flexible platform for missions to the Moon and beyond.

Gateway won't be permanently occupied but will serve as a platform where astronauts can live and undertake research for short periods of time. It will also be able to continue scientific research even between human lunar missions.

Gateway modules currently in development are:

  • Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO): This is the foundation of the space station, providing a habitable living space for the astronauts as well as being the station's command and control center. HALO will fulfill a range of crucial functions, such as regulating the internal environment, providing power to other Gateway modules, and studying radiation levels in and around the station.

Animated HALO Module
Animated HALO Module

  • International Habitation (I-HAB): This is the second habitable element of Gateway and will be the main living area for the astronauts. It will have the space and equipment needed for astronauts to undertake experiments while living in orbit.

Interior of I-hab
Interior of I-hab

  • ESPRIT (European System Providing Refueling Infrastructure and Telecommunication): This module will provide features including enhanced communication capabilities, refueling systems, and a viewing port similar to the window on the International Space Station.

Human Landing System (HLS): The Tricky Part

  • The Human Landing System will take cargo and humans from the Gateway to the Moon's surface. Whereas Apollo's Lunar Module was designed to be used for one return journey to the Moon's surface, the landing systems for the Artemis missions are meant to be used for multiple missions.

  • SpaceX will provide the HLS for Artemis 3 and 4, with a specially adapted lunar version of its Starship rocket. Before it can be used on a real mission and human crews are allowed on board, SpaceX must perform at least one demo showing it can land Starship safely on the lunar surface. When Starship has passed all the rigorous safety tests, it will be ready for use on a real mission.

  • Blue Origin has been contracted to provide an HLS for Artemis 5. This lander will have the potential to increase the number of crew members who can go down to the moon and allow them to stay for longer.

SpaceX Starship Human Landing System
SpaceX Starship Human Landing System

Artemis I:

  • Artemis 1 was the beginning of mission Artemis was on an uncrewed mission to travel a total of 280,000 miles to demonstrate the performance of the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket on its maiden flight and gather engineering data throughout before Orion returned on a high-speed Earth re-entry at Mach 32, or 24,500 miles per hour. The high-speed lunar velocity re-entry is the top mission priority and a necessary test of the heat shield’s performance as it enters Earth’s atmosphere, heating to nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit—about half as hot as the surface of the sun—before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean for retrieval and post-flight engineering assessment.

  • Artemis 1 left Earth on November 16, 2022, at 1:47:44 a.m. EST from Launch Complex 39B (LC-39B) at the Kennedy Space Center. 89 minutes after lift-off, the ICPS (interim cryogenic propulsion stage) fired for approximately 18 minutes in a trans-lunar injection (TLI) maneuver.

  • On November 20 at 19:09 UTC, the Orion spacecraft entered the lunar sphere of influence, where the influence of the Moon's gravity on the spacecraft is greater than that of Earth

  • On November 21, Orion experienced a loss of communication with NASA from 12:25 through 12:59 UTC as it passed behind the moon and no longer had line-of-sight to Earth. There, during an automatically controlled maneuver, the first of several trajectory-altering burns, called an "outbound powered flyby burn," to transition Orion to a distant retrograde orbit began at 12:44 UTC. The orbital maneuvering system engine fired for two minutes and thirty seconds. While operating autonomously, Orion made its closest lunar approach of approximately 130 km (81 mi) above the surface at 12:57 UTC.

  • On November 28, Orion reached a distance of 432,210 km (268,563 mi) from Earth, the maximum distance achieved during the mission.

  • On November 30, the Orion spacecraft performed a maintenance burn to maintain its trajectory and decrease its velocity for a planned burn on December 1, at 21:53 UTC, to depart its distant retrograde orbit around the Moon, beginning its journey back to Earth.

  • On December 5, at 16:43 UTC, the spacecraft reached 128 km (80 mi) from the lunar surface at its closest approach, right before an earthbound burn, the "powered return flyby burn", to leave the zone of lunar gravitational influence.

  • On December 6 at 7:29 UTC, Orion exited the lunar sphere of influence, followed by a minor course correction burn and an inspection of the crew module's thermal protection system and the ESM (European Service Module).

  • Over the next few days, the mission control team continued to conduct system checks and prepared for re-entry and splashdown.

  • On December 10, mission planners announced that the final landing site would be near Guadalupe Island off the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.


Artemis II:

Artemis II builds on the success of the uncrewed Artemis I in 2022 and will demonstrate a broad range of capabilities needed on deep space missions. The Artemis II flight test will be NASA’s first mission with crew aboard the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket and Orion spacecraft and will pave the way to land the first woman on the Moon on Artemis III.

As planned by NASA, after nearly 50 years, this mission tends to launch four astronauts around the moon. This is an eight-day mission with three NASA astronauts and a Canadian space agency astronaut. *Note: The astronauts will not step foot on the moon.


Artemis III:

Artemis II was a phase that ensured that the Orion went into orbit and gathered the information on the techniques needed, whereas Artemis III is the phase that will ensure the landing of the astronauts on the lunar surface after almost half a decade!

The launch is planned for 2025, when NASA will make history by sending humans near the lunar south pole. The crew will spend almost 7 days on the lunar surface to verify the presence of water on the lunar south pole (is it habitable?).



Artemis IV:

After the success of Artemis III is ensured, the next step would be to step onto a lunar space station (Gateway), where Artemis IV will deliver a core part of the space station that is the I-Hab (International Habitation Module), followed by another crew landing, which will also spend almost 7 days exploring, this time collecting samples and bringing them to Earth.


Artemis V:

Here the second module will be delivered, ESPIRT (European System Providing Refueling Infrastructure and Telecommunication), along with another set of crew for further studies and research.


Well, that’s all NASA has planned till now, but if all this is a success for NASA, it will be a great discovery for humans. Missions until Artemis 13 can be expected.

All this is a bit clearer when we have a look at an animation; here’s a video to sum it all up!



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