By Chuck B. Hickam, Thornical Press Contributor
November 21, 2022
Not since 1972 has man stepped on the Moon, but all that could change in the next eight years. NASA officials have set a goal to have astronauts back on the Moon’s surface working and living by the year 2030. NASA’s recent Space Launch System rocket launched the beginning of the Artemis space program which hopes to continue the successes of both the Apollo and STS programs, and hopefully a manned mission to Mars.
The designated program name Artemis refers to the ancient Greek goddess Artemis (Roman equivalent: Diana), the twin sister of the ancient Grecco-Roman god Apollo. Artemis is closely associated with the Moon and is considered a lunar goddess, while Apollo is associated with the Sun.
The Artemis lunar program, headed by NASA’s Howard Hu, believes that humans could return to the Moon by 2030 to live and work. Moon mission enthusiasts will be glad to hear that Moon Rovers (Lunar Roving Vehicle) will also be returning to NASA’s rolling stock.
NASA recently launched the SLS rocket, the successor to the mighty Saturn V, with the Orion spacecraft on an unmanned mission to orbit the Moon and return to Earth. Orion carries fully suited crash test dummies that will provide stress data to mission control. The 42 day mission will bring Orion within 60 miles of the Moon to complete several lunar orbit missions before being slingshotted back to Earth. The most important part of the mission will be reentry to Earth’s atmosphere to test Orion’s heat shield which must survive 5,000 F degrees in order to make a safe splash down off the coast of San Diego.
If successful, Artemis 1 will green light missions Artemis 2 and 3, which are expected to be manned flights. Artemis 2 will orbit astronauts around the Moon and back, but Artemis 3 is expected to be the mission that will land humans back on the Moon’s surface.
Feature Photo: Artemis 1, Image Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky