Four astronauts are preparing to return to the moon, but they will do so later than planned. As the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) initially said, they will cross the surface this year. There will be no moonwalks in 2026 either.
This January 7th afternoon, NASA indicated that the Artemis II mission to reach the lunar surface with astronauts has been moved to September 2025. A year later, Artemis III would do just that, a first on soil. of the Moon for more than 50 years. Finally, the Artemis IV mission to establish a lunar base is planned for 2028, probably also in September.
This rearrangement of dates will allow scientists to correct errors found during that period Artemis I mission November 2022. Then, unmanned, the Orion rocket arrived Closer to the lunar surface and photographed like never before. And on this mission he went Farthest and deepest space a spacecraft has ever been.
“We're reminding everyone: safety is our priority. We're going to give the Artemis teams more time to meet challenges and evolve, and more time to launch Artemis II and III,” said NASA CEO Bill Nelson.
Nelson pointed out that science will allow us to discover the secrets of the formation of the solar system, and this includes the secrets of our own planet. However, the target is very ambitious.
“This time we return to the Moon and learn, live, create and invent what we need to get to Mars,” he summarized.
Being on the Moon will allow you to gain the experience and learning you need to move on to the Red Planet.
Before we go back into space, NASA is working on specific challenges seen with Artemis I. Various teams of scientists are working to fix the defect in the batteries and the circuit components responsible for the spacecraft's ventilation and temperature control.
The loss of some parts of the thermal shield with Artemis I is also being investigated and repaired, which is expected to be completed in the spring (between March and May). Scientists try to understand the failures, observe the shield, test it, and evaluate sensor and image data.
Amendments will result in a safer environment for future trips. NASA officials say time is enough. However, they stressed that no launch will be carried out until everything is ready and the work will be delayed if unforeseen events occur along the way or if they are not fully prepared.
An overview of tasks and challenges
NASA scientists are working in parallel to get everything ready for the next missions to the Moon; Officials defined it as a long-term plan of at least five missions. The details of the next two are as follows:
Artemis II. Astronauts will fly over the surface of the moon, but they will never set foot on its soil. Here we will see how humans resist traveling aboard Orion and the science experiments will be conducted.
NASA Associate Administrator Jim Frei pointed out that the mission has many challenges:
- The first human lunar landing system.
- A demonstration to the crew of what this visit to the lunar surface would look like.
- Improve the power and propulsion system to reach the moon more efficiently.
- Optimize the launch so that all cargo, equipment and men travel in one launch.
Environmental and safety control is critical to protecting astronauts. So NASA must evaluate each component so that humans are safe and the mission is successful.
“We're letting devices talk to us, guiding device security decision-making. “The Artemis II flight tests and this mission and those that follow will reduce the risks of future missions to Mars,” said Katherine Koerner, NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development.
“We're solving the challenges of getting humans to do their jobs for the first time. We're ever closer to establishing continuous exploration of our satellites and our closest neighbors,” he said.
Artemis III. It is a very ambitious task that requires a lot of logistics. This includes reaching the Moon's South Pole and conducting multiple spacewalks. These are the challenges that Free mentions:
- Improve the ship's propulsion.
- Read what it takes to have more working days.
- Test what it takes to develop long-lasting spacesuits on moonwalks.
- Blocks and robots that can resist lunar properties.
“These are incredibly big challenges,” Frei said.
What was seen on Artemis II would also dictate the changes and improvements to be made to Artemis III.
Who will travel?
In April 2023, NASA presented Four astronauts returning to the moon. This includes the first woman and the first Afro-descendant to visit our natural satellite. This is the first time NASA has flown with a Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut.
Commander Reid Wiseman. He was a flight engineer on Mission 41 to the International Space Station (ISS) from May to November 2014. He logged more than 165 days in space, including a 13-hour spacewalk. Between December 2020 and January 2022 he served as the head of the NASA Astronaut Office.
Pilot Victor Glover. He was the pilot on the SpaceX Crew-1 mission in 2021, spending 168 days in space. Previously, he was a flight engineer on Mission 64 to the International Space Station, where he contributed to scientific research, technical operations and participated in four space missions.
Mission Specialist Christina Koch. This is his second space flight. He traveled to the International Space Station for the first time, where he was flight engineer for missions 59, 60 and 61 and was there to perform scientific work on the flights. She broke the record of The number of days a woman has been in space is 328, There was more First spacewalk made exclusively by women.
Mission Specialist Jeremy Hansen. This is his first space flight, but he has been with CSA for many years. He graduated with a degree in space science and a master's degree in physics with a specialization in satellites. He was elected by CSA in May 2009. In 2017, he became the first Canadian to collaborate on Earth with NASA.