By Zoe Ong
We are going back to the moon. NASA’s announcement of Artemis 2024 is a momentous event in space exploration. Whilst the Artemis lunar exploration has a number of unique goals, it is humanity’s first big step off the face of the Earth towards Mars. The main goals of the Artemis program are to:
Land the first woman and the next men on the moon
Demonstrate new technologies, capabilities and business approaches needed for future exploration including Mars
Establish American leadership and a strategic presence on the Moon whilst expanding U.S. global economic impact.
Broaden NASA’s commercial and international partnerships
Inspire a new generation and encourage careers in STEM
Mars is still NASA’s ultimate goal, but Artemis is humanity’s first go at long-term exploration and habitation. Once astronauts have landed at the lunar South Pole, they will undergo numerous tasks to:
Find and use water and other critical resources needed for long-term exploration
Investigate the Moon’s mysteries and learn more about Earth and the universe
Learn how to live and operate on the surface of another celestial body where astronauts aren’t too far from home.
Prove and tes the technologies NASA needs before sending astronauts on missions to Mars (which can take up to three years roundtrip).
NASA has also recognised the importance of a combined collaboration from both commercial and international partners to establish sustainable missions by 2028. At the forefront of this new commercial space industry is Elon Musk’s ‘SpaceX’, a company committed to “reducing space transportation costs and enabling the colonisation of Mars.”
In May, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft carried Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station, launching American astronauts off the ground for the first time since 2011. Crew Dragon was a mission that aimed to demonstrate SpaceX’s ability to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS safely, and was also the final major step required by SpaceX to get certified by NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme for long-term manned missions to space.
Ultimately, Artemis 2024 is not as far away as it seems and it’s the first step in a long journey toward Mars.