|NASA says it's on track to land first woman on the moon in 2024|
Buzz Aldrin on the Moon. Photo: PA.
NASA has shared an update on its Artemis mission, which aims to land the first woman on the moon in just four years. The space agency has reassured that the mission is still on track, with an unmanned launch set for 2021, before a manned launch in 2024. This will mark the first time that a woman has stepped on the moon – 52 years after man first stepped on the lunar surface. Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator, said: “With bipartisan support from Congress, our 21st century push to the Moon is well within America’s reach. As we’ve solidified more of our exploration plans in recent months, we’ve continued to refine our budget and architecture. We’re going back to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new a generation of explorers. As we build up a sustainable presence, we’re also building momentum toward those first human steps on the Red Planet.”
The lunar missions will launch using NASA’s powerful new rocket – the Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS will launch on a test flight around the moon with the Orion spacecraft in 2021 without astronauts. Two years later, another test flight around the moon will take place, this time with astronauts on board. Finally, in 2024, NASA will attempt to land on the lunar South Pole, with a female astronaut taking the first step onto the surface. While on the moon, the astronauts will collect samples and conduct a range of science experiments over the course of nearly seven days. Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., the lunar module pilot of the first lunar landing mission. Photo: Getty Images.
They’ll then return to lunar orbit before heading back to Earth aboard Orion. NASA’s current focus is on the lunar Gateway – an orbiting station could serve as a pit stop for missions to the moon. It explained: “While NASA has not made a final decision to use the Gateway for Artemis III, Artemis IV and beyond will send crew aboard Orion to dock to the Gateway, where two crew members can stay aboard the spaceship in orbit while two go to the surface. Over time, the outpost will evolve, with new modules added by international partners, allowing crew members to conduct increasingly longer lunar missions.”
Meanwhile, NASA is also working on concepts for buildings on the moon, which could allow further expedition with more crew. It added: “That concept calls for an Artemis Base Camp that would include new rovers, power systems, habitats, and more on the surface for long-term exploration of the Moon.”
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