Artemis Program Nears Another Milestone


NASA’s Artemis Program has already set at least one record with Artemis I, the most powerful space rocket in history, which was launched last Wednesday from Cape Canaveral. Per the Guardian, the Orion space capsule the rocket carried will soon set another record, traveling 1.3 million miles, more than any spacecraft intended for humans has ever flown. Orion program manager Howard Hu told the BBC it’s all part of NASA’s plan to have humans living and working on the moon before 2030. “It’s the first step we’re taking to long-term deep space exploration, for not just the United States but for the world,” Hu said, adding that the ultimate goal is to set the stage for a voyage to Mars.

To that end, the Orion capsule is currently manned by three dummies, which are fully suited and wired with sensors to gather data about stresses astronauts will encounter on future missions. Per, Orion aced a key maneuver Monday, completing a controlled burn from the dark side of the moon and setting itself up for a so-called distant retrograde orbit that will carry it some 40,000 miles from the lunar surface. That will allow NASA engineers to see how the craft functions in deep space, far beyond the distance reached 50 years ago by astronauts with the Apollo program.

Per CNN, NASA engineers say Orion is performing “really well,” despite about a dozen “funnies,” i.e., unexpected data that required some troubleshooting. The spacecraft’s 25-day mission is scheduled to finish with a splashdown off the California coast on Dec. 11. NASA will then begin preparations in earnest for Artemis II, which will send live astronauts around the moon in 2024, followed by Artemis III in 2026, which aims to put boots on the moon’s surface for the first time since 1972. NASA also intends to land a woman and a person of color on the moon for the first time. The Artemis Program will culminate with the development a moon base called Lunar Gateway. (Read more Artemis missions stories.)

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