In less than four years, NASA will be sending the “first woman and next man” to the Moon as part of the Artemis III mission. This will be the first time that astronauts have landed on the lunar surface since the final mission of the Apollo Program, which was Apollo 17 in 1972.
“Ultimately, it fulfills our need to explore,” said Dr. Kjell Lindgren, a NASA astronaut, who is one of the 18 recently chosen for NASA’s Artemis program.
After careful consideration, NASA has chosen 18 astronauts that make up the Artemis Team. The team was announced last Wednesday (Dec. 16th) during the eighth meeting of the National Space Council (NSC) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“All of us in the astronaut office are, in one way or another, influenced by those iconic images of our Apollo astronauts exploring the moon,” Dr. Lindgren said.
Returning to the moon is seen as a necessary stepping-stone to getting humans to Mars in the 2030s. The Artemis team will be working on lunar-related projects, both in orbit and on the surface of the moon, that can eventually be applied to a future Martian mission.
“The moon offers a wealth of scientific discovery still,” Dr. Lindgren said. “It also offers a wealth of operational discovery helping us to refine the procedures, the equipment and the skills that are needed to be able to land, to explore successfully on a rocky surface and then to come back to the earth.”
The missions also have the potential to create technological advancements for everyone on Earth.
“The whole world benefits from those things and the benefits from Apollo are innumerable. You know, from the computers, the miniaturization of computers and on, you can count all those,” he said. “That was really a turning point in history for technology.”
NASA’s Artemis program hopes to eventually create a permanent human presence on the moon’s surface, similar to the current full-time human presence on the International Space Station, and Dr. Lindgren could be among them.
“It’s such a privilege to be a part of this,” he said.
The new lunar program was named “Artemis,” after the Greek goddess, who was the twin sister of Apollo.
The Artemis I mission is currently scheduled for November of 2021 and is expected to last 25 days. Artemis II, which could include a deep-space rendezvous with another spacecraft at this point, will last an estimated 10 days and is scheduled to launch by 2023. If all goes according to plan, the first mission to the lunar surface since the Apollo Era will take place in October of 2024.
Click here to learn more about The Artemis Team