Science & Technology

Artemis I – NASA’s Return to The Moon

By Elyas Layachi

Volume 3 Issue 1

November 7, 2022

Artemis I – NASA’s Return to The Moon

Image provided by NASA

On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong made history by becoming the first human to walk on the Moon, uttering his famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he exited the lunar module. Out of the 15 total Apollo Missions, seven landed on the moon, with a total of twelve astronauts setting foot on the moon between 1969 and 1972. Since the Apollo moon landing, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has focused most of its resources on Low-Earth Orbit activities, including the Space Shuttle Program (1981 – 2011), the development of various space telescopes, and the construction and use of the International Space Station (1993 – present). However, NASA is not currently diverting all its resources to the ISS. With the help of private industries such as SpaceX and Boeing, NASA is using some of its resources to create both the Space Launch System, the world’s most powerful three-stage rocket system, and the Orion space capsule, the next-generation space capsule (based on the Apollo capsule’s design) that will be used to send humans to the Moon and even Mars soon. 

NASA created its Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion space capsule for its Artemis1 Moon Program to return to the moon by the end of the decade. Construction on the Space Launch System began in 2011 by NASA and was completed in 2021. The super rocket can produce 8.8 million pounds of maximum thrust during its launch and can be modified in several ways for different types of missions. According to NASA, the Orion spacecraft will serve “as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency and capability, sustain astronauts during their missions and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.” Its heat shield is designed similarly to that of the Apollo capsule, but Orion is larger and can house four astronauts as opposed to three. 

Artemis 1, the first in a series of Artemis missions, will be the first unmanned flight test of both components of Artemis: SLS and the Orion spacecraft. SLS will launch Orion into Earth orbit while releasing 10 small satellites, and Orion will use its propulsion systems to maneuver around the moon and return to Earth. The launch was originally planned for August 2022, but NASA delayed the launch to October 2022 due to rocket malfunctions and tropical storm Ian. The new launch date is now November 14th, 2022, with a launch window opening at 12:07 AM Eastern. 

If all goes well and Artemis 1 proves to be successful, NASA will continue to work through its Artemis timeline, preparing for Artemis 2, the first scheduled crew mission of NASA’s Orion Spacecraft and SLS. It has a planned mission duration of 10 days and is expected to be launched in May 2024. In total, the Artemis program plans to have three launches, but that is subject to change depending on the results of those launches.  

Artemis 1 is paving the way for humans to set foot once again on the Moon. As NASA says in their launch advertisements, “We are going back to the moon!” Be sure to tune in to NASA’s social media live streams on November 14th, 2022, to witness history in the making.