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Artemis program

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Template:Infobox space program

The Artemis program is an ongoing government-funded crewed spaceflight program that has the goal of landing "the first woman and the next man" on the Moon, specifically at the lunar south pole region by 2024.[1][2] The program is carried out predominantly by NASA, U.S. commercial spaceflight companies contracted by NASA, and international partners such as the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Australian Space Agency (ASA)[3]. NASA is leading the program, but expects international partnerships to play a key role in advancing Artemis as the next step towards the long-term goal of establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon, laying the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy, and eventually sending humans to Mars.[4]

In December of 2017, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1, authorizing the lunar campaign. Artemis draws upon ongoing spacecraft programs including Orion, the Lunar Gateway, and Commercial Lunar Payload Services, and adds an undeveloped crewed lander. The Space Launch System will serve as the primary launch vehicle for Orion, while commercial launch vehicles are planned for use to launch various other elements of the campaign.[5] NASA requested $1.6 billion in additional funding for Artemis for fiscal year 2020,[6] while the Senate Appropriations Committee requested from NASA a five-year budget profile[7] which is needed for evaluation and approval by Congress.[8][9]

History[edit source | edit]

The current Artemis program incorporates several major components of other canceled NASA programs and missions, such as the Constellation program and the Asteroid Redirect Mission. Originally legislated by the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, Constellation included the development of Ares I, Ares V, and the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle. The program ran from the early 2000s until 2010.

In May 2009, President Barack Obama established the Augustine Committee to take into account several objectives including support for the International Space Station, development of missions beyond low Earth orbit (including the Moon, Mars and Near-Earth objects) and utilization of the commercial space industry within defined budget limits.[10] The committee concluded that the Constellation program was massively underfunded and that a 2020 Moon landing was impossible. Constellation was subsequently put on hold.

On the 15th of April 2010, President Obama spoke at the Kennedy Space Center, announcing the administration's plans for NASA and cancelling the non-Orion elements of Constellation on the premise that the program had become nonviable.[11] He instead proposed $6 billion in additional funding and called for development of a new heavy lift rocket program to be ready for construction by 2015 with crewed missions to Mars orbit by the mid-2030s.[12]

On 11 October 2010, President Obama signed into law the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, which included requirements for the immediate development of the Space Launch System as a follow-on launch vehicle to the Space Shuttle and continued development of a crew exploration vehicle to be capable of supporting missions beyond low Earth orbit starting in 2016, while maximizing, where possible, the use of the workforce, assets, and capabilities of the Space Shuttle, Constellation program and other NASA programs. The law also invested in space technologies and robotics capabilities tied to the overall space exploration framework, continued to support Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, Commercial Resupply Services and expanded the Commercial Crew Development program.[13]

On 30 June 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to re-establish the National Space Council, chaired by Vice-President Mike Pence. The Trump administration's first budget request kept Obama-era human spaceflight programs in place: Commercial Resupply Services, Commercial Crew Development, the Space Launch System, and the Orion spacecraft for deep space missions, while reducing Earth science research and calling for the elimination of NASA's education office.[14]

On 11 December 2017, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1, a change in national space policy that provides for a U.S.-led, integrated program with private sector partners for a human return to the Moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond. The policy calls for the NASA administrator to "lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities." The effort intends to more effectively organize government, private industry, and international efforts toward returning humans on the Moon and laying the foundation of eventual human exploration of Mars.[1]

On 26 March 2019, Vice President Mike Pence announced that NASA's Moon landing goal would be accelerated by four years with a planned landing in 2024.[15] On 14 May 2019, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced that the new program would be named Artemis, who is both the twin sister of Apollo and the goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology.[16] Despite the immediate new goals, Mars missions by the 2030s were still intended as of May 2019.[1]

In February 2020 the White House requested a funding increase of 12% to cover the Artemis program as part of its fiscal year 2021 budget. The total budget would now be $25.2 billion per year with $3.7 billion dedicated towards a Human Landing System. NASA Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit said he thought the agency has "a very good shot" to get this budget through Congress despite Democratic concerns around the program.[17]

In late February 2020, a document started to circulate at Marshall Spaceflight Center named "Moon Mission 2024 Manifest". Matthew Rydin, NASA's press secretary, has stated that "The proposed timeline in this article has many inaccuracies. We are currently in a blackout period because multiple companies have proposed human lunar lander solutions. These selections will be made in the coming weeks. However, the plan represented in this article is not the NASA plan."[citation needed] It would be the first NASA flight manifest to include the SLS Block 2.[citation needed] The only integrated lunar lander publicly proposed is the Boeing HLS.[18] It is unclear how the crews post Artemis IV would land. The alleged proposal was solely an SLS manifest and did not include Artemis Support Missions.[19][needs update] |- | Lockheed Martin Space || Littleton, Colorado || CLPS || McCandless Lunar Lander || [20] |- |Masten Space Systems|| Mojave, California || CLPS || XL-1 lander || style="background:#9F9;vertical-align:middle;text-align:center;" class="table-yes"|8 April 2020[21][20] |- | Moon Express || Cape Canaveral, Florida || CLPS || MX-1, MX-2, MX-5, MX-9 landers; sample return. ||[citation needed] |- |OrbitBeyond|| Edison, New Jersey || CLPS || Z-01 and Z-02 landers || style="background:#9F9;vertical-align:middle;text-align:center;" class="table-yes"|31 May 2019, US$97 million[22]; OrbitBeyond subsequently asked to be released from the contract, and NASA did so later in 2019[when?] |- | rowspan=5|18 November 2019 | Blue Origin || Kent, Washington || HLS || Blue Moon lander || [23] |- | Ceres Robotics || Palo Alto, California || CLPS || ||[citation needed] |- | Sierra Nevada Corporation || Louisville, Colorado || CLPS || ||[citation needed] |- | SpaceX || Hawthorne, California || HLS || Starship HLS || [23] |- | Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems || Irvine, California || CLPS || || |}

Artemis Accords[edit source | edit]

On May 5, 2020, Reuters reported that the Trump administration was drafting a new international agreement outlining the laws for mining on the Moon.[24] NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine officially announced the Artemis Accords on May 15 will be a series of a bilateral agreements between the nation states in the Artemis program "grounded in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967".[25][4]

Spaceflight vehicles[edit source | edit]

There are a number of different spacecraft and launch vehicles planned to be involved in accomplishing the objectives of the Artemis program, These include both NASA and commercial options for the US provided elements, and as of early 2020, a jointly-developed transport vehicle from the European, Japanese and Canadian participants. As other international partners become a formal part of Artemis, it is expected that other space launch and spaceflight systems will be added.

Launch vehicles[edit source | edit]

As of the early mission concepts outlined by NASA in May 2020, launch vehicles planned to be used will include the NASA Space Launch System as well as commercial launch systems chosen and contracted for by the various commercial suppliers of the Human Landing System (HLS) elements: Blue Origin New Glenn, United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur, and SpaceX Starship[23] and Falcon 9[26], as well as launch vehicles that are contracted for the various CLPS cargo providers. The European Ariane 6 was also proposed in July 2019[27] to be used to launch cargo and some of the Artemis space station elements.[citation needed]

Space Launch System[edit source | edit]

The Space Launch System (SLS) is a US super heavy-lift expendable launch vehicle, which has been under development since its announcement in 2011.

Diagram of four versions of the Space Launch System rocket
Planned evolution of the Space Launch System, the primary launch vehicle for Orion

The main launch vehicle planned to be used for the Artemis lunar program, As of May 2020 is the US Space Launch System (SLS). NASA is required to utilize SLS Block 1 by the US Congress to lift a payload of 95 metric tons (209,000 lb) to low Earth orbit (LEO), and will launch Artemis 1, 2, and 3.[citation needed] The later Block 1B is intended to debut the Exploration Upper Stage and launch the notional Artemis 4-7.[28]Template:Full Block 2 is planned to replace the initial Shuttle-derived boosters with advanced boosters and would have a LEO capability of more than 150 metric tons (330,000 lb), again as required by Congress.[29] Block 2 is intended to enable crewed launches to Mars.[30] The SLS will launch the Orion spacecraft and use the ground operations capabilities and launch facilities at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Some variations of the SLS launch manifest has all the blocks being active at the same time rather than one block replacing the last as is common with launchers.[citation needed]

SLS Core Stage rolling out from Michoud on January 8, 2020, ahead of the Artemis 1 Mission

In March 2019, the Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request for NASA. This budget did not initially include any money for the Block 1B and Block 2 variants of SLS but later a request for a budget increase of 1.6 billion dollars towards SLS, Orion, and crewed landers was made. Block 1B is currently intended to debut on Artemis 4 and will be used mainly for co-manifested crew transfers and logistics rather than constructing the Gateway as initially planned. An uncrewed Block was planned to launch the Lunar Surface Asset in 2028, the first lunar outpost of the Artemis program, but now that launch has been moved to a commercial launcher.[31] Block 2 development will most likely start in the late 2020s after NASA is regularly visiting the lunar surface and shifts focus towards Mars.[32]

In October 2019, it was announced NASA had authorized Boeing to purchase materials in bulk for more SLS rockets ahead of the announcement of a new contract. This contract is expected to support up to ten core stages and eight Exploration Upper Stages.[relevant? ][33]

Other launch vehicles[edit source | edit]

Although the Delta IV Heavy and Falcon Heavy were considered by NASA to launch a crewed Orion, the agency ultimately decided to use only the SLS for the Orion spacecraft.[34]

The PPE module and the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) of the Lunar Gateway, which were previously planned for the SLS Block 1B, will now fly on commercial launch vehicles yet to be determined.[35][36][37][38] The Gateway will be supported and resupplied by approximately 28 commercial cargo missions launched by undetermined commercial rockets.[38] The Gateway Logistics Services (GLS) will be in charge of the resupply missions,[38] as well for contracting the construction of a resupply vehicle capable to remain docked to the Lunar Gateway for one year of operations, provide and generate its own power while docked, and be capable of autonomous disposal at the end of its mission.[38][39]
The three components of an expendable crewed lunar lander will also be deployed to the station on a commercial launcher before the arrival of the first crewed mission, Artemis 3.[40]

Spacecraft[edit source | edit]

As of May 2020, the spacecraft planned to be involved in aspects of carrying out Artemis missions include both NASA and commercial-acquired spacecraft, and to date, one spacecraft from the joint efforts of ESA/JAXA/CSA, the HERECLES transport system.

Orion[edit source | edit]

NASA's Orion spacecraft undergoing final tests

The NASA Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV)[clarification needed] is a class of partially reusable space capsule planned to use in a number of NASA's human spaceflight programs. The spacecraft consists of a Crew Module (CM) manufactured by Lockheed Martin and the European Service Module (ESM) manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space. Capable of supporting a crew of six beyond low Earth orbit, Orion can last 21 days undocked and up to six months docked. It is equipped with solar power, an automated docking system, and glass cockpit interfaces modeled after those used in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. A single AJ10 engine provides the spacecraft's primary propulsion, while eight R-4D-11 engines, and six pods of custom reaction control system engines developed by Airbus, provide the spacecraft's secondary propulsion. Although compatible with other launch vehicles, Orion is primarily designed to launch atop a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, with a tower launch escape system (LES).[citation needed]

The Orion MPCV was announced by NASA on May 24, 2011.[41] Its design is based on the Crew Exploration Vehicle from the cancelled Constellation program.[42] The command module is being built by Lockheed Martin at the Michoud Assembly Facility,[43] while the Orion service module is being built by Airbus Defence and Space with funding from the European Space Agency.[44][45]

By May 2020, the ESA had signed an agreements with NASA to provide three service modules for Artemis as part of its barter arrangement with NASA to be a member of the Artemis project. The ESMs cost approximately €250 million each to acquire from Airbus, not counting the costs incurred by the ESA directly. The third ESM is slated to fly in 2024.[46]

Lunar Gateway[edit source | edit]

Possible configuration of the Gateway

The NASA Lunar Gateway is an in-development mini-space station in lunar orbit intended to serve as a solar-powered communication hub, science laboratory, short-term habitation module, and holding area for rovers and other robots.[47]

The Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) started development at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory during the now canceled Asteroid Redirect Mission. The original concept was a robotic, high performance solar electric spacecraft that would retrieve a multi-ton boulder from an asteroid and bring it to lunar orbit for study.[48] When ARM was canceled, the solar electric propulsion was repurposed for the Gateway.[49][50] The PPE will allow access to the entire lunar surface and act as a space tug for visiting craft.[51] It will also serve as the command and communications center of the Gateway.[52][53] The PPE is intended to have a mass of 8-9 tonne and the capability to generate 50 kW[54] of solar electric power for its ion thrusters, which can be supplemented by chemical propulsion.[55] It is planned to launch on a commercial launch vehicle in 2022.[56][57]

The Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO),[58][59] also called the Minimal Habitation Module (MHM) and formerly known as the Utilization Module,[60] will be built by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (NGIS).[36][61] A commercial launch vehicle would launch the HALO before the end of year 2023. The HALO is based on a Cygnus Cargo resupply module[36] to the outside of which radial docking ports, body mounted radiators (BMRs), batteries and communications antennae will be added. The HALO will be a scaled-down habitation module,[62] yet, it will feature a functional pressurized volume providing sufficient command, control and data handling capabilities, energy storage and power distribution, thermal control, communications and tracking capabilities, two axial and up to two radial docking ports, stowage volume, environmental control and life support systems to augment the Orion spacecraft and support a crew of four for at least 30 days.[61]

According to Doug Loverro, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations, the Gateway construction was removed from the 2024 critical path in order to clear up funding for the HLS. He stated that the PPE could face delays and that moving it back to 2026 would allow for a more refined vehicle. It is also worth noting that the international partners on the Gateway would not have their modules ready until 2026 anyways. The only lander capable of operating without the Gateway is Boeing's HLS.[63]

On April 30, 2020, a key to NASA's vision for a "sustainable" crew presence on or near the Moon is the Gateway station. NASA officials originally hoped the Gateway would be in position near the Moon in time for the Artemis 3 mission in 2024, allowing elements of the lunar lander to be assembled, or aggregated, at the Gateway before the arrival of astronauts on an Orion crew capsule. Jim Bridenstine told Spaceflight Now, the Artemis 3 mission will no longer go through the Gateway, but NASA is not backing away from the program.[64]

Human Landing System[edit source | edit]

The human landing system elements of Artemis are several commercial lunar landing systems that are in early design as of 2020. Each design has dissimilar elements intentionally, to give program design redundancy as NASA plans to contract for the build of two commercial options for the HLS role.

On April 30, 2020, in a teleconference, NASA announced three companies (Blue Origin, Dynetics, and SpaceX) had been selected for partial government funding to do initial design of HLS landing systems. Currently, it is not known what time slots each HLS would be contracted for but the selection of three lander designs would, if built, open up more landing opportunities[according to whom?] than would be possible with two.[65]

Selection date Company Vehicles
30 April 2020 Blue Origin Integrated Lander Vehicle (ILV), a three-stage lander that would be launched on its own New Glenn rocket system and ULA Vulcan launch system.
Dynetics Dynetics Human Landing System (DHLS), a single structure providing the ascent and descent capabilities that would launch on the ULA Vulcan launch system.
SpaceX Starship HLS, a fully integrated lander that would use a Lunar design variation of the already-in-development SpaceX SpaceX Starship spaceship and launch vehicle second stage. It would launch on the SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy launch vehicle.
Integrated Lander Vehicle[edit source | edit]
File:National Human Landing System.png
National Human Landing System

The Integrated Lander Vehicle (ILV) or National Human Landing System (NHLS) is a lunar lander currently under development by the "national team" which is led by Blue Origin. It also includes Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper Laboratory as major partners. The main selling point of the lander is all the components have been in development in one form or another for some time. The transfer stage is based off of the Cygnus spacecraft, the Blue Moon will be used as the descent stage, and the ascent stage will be based on the Orion spacecraft. It will be launched in three parts on both the New Glenn and Vulcan rockets but could be launched on a single SLS Block 1B. The vehicle passes all of NASA's requirements but faces risk with its power and propulsion systems which pose a significant risk[according to whom?] to the developmental timeline.[66][67]

File:Starship Human Landing System.png
Starship Human Landing System
Starship Human Landing System[edit source | edit]
For further information, see Starship HLS

Starship HLS is a lunar landing variant of the SpaceX Starship—a fully reusable launch vehicle and spaceship that has been under development by SpaceX as a self-funded private spaceflight project since 2012— that SpaceX proposed as a non-reusable variant for the human lunar lander component for Artemis. The variant seems to be a standalone dedicated lunar-specific landing system rather than an all-encompassing transport vehicle. This is evident by its lack of heat shielding and fins used to return to Earth. The vehicle appears to have Super Draco-like[failed verification] engines towards the nose of the vehicle for final descent due to the very high thrust of its main Raptor engines. The nose is now also covered with solar panels. It has a much larger cargo bay and smaller crew area due to lunar missions being much shorter than the general LEO and Mars voyages the base version was designed for. For Artemis, the Starship HLS would launch on its own Super Heavy booster, then be refueled in orbit, and finally sent to lunar orbit. There, an Orion spacecraft would transfer the crew to the vehicle where they would descend and ascend from the surface. The major advantage of Starship is its ability to carry large amounts of cargo as well as its large interior space allowing it to perform long-duration surface missions. SpaceX also has a CLPS contract to deliver payload to the lunar surface with Starship and a contract to deliver supplies to the Lunar Gateway with Dragon XL.[23][67]

Dynetics Human Landing System[edit source | edit]
File:Dynetics Human Landing System.png
Dynetics Human Landing System

The Dynetics Human Landing System (DHLS) is currently under development by Dynetics and Sierra Nevada Corporation as well as a multitude of subcontractors. Its design is very similar[according to whom?] to early SEI lunar lander proposals (1989–1993) with a low crew cabin and large solar panels. It is the smallest of the three proposals. It consists of a single main structure and would rely on drop tanks to power a majority of the descent. The same main spacecraft structure would then ascend back into orbit and rendezvous with Orion or the Lunar Gateway. The vehicle could also be used to easily deliver large payloads to the lunar surface and could be modified to act as a lunar base module. It will launch on a ULA Vulcan rocket but can also fly on an SLS Block 1B rocket.

Other lander concepts and proposals[edit source | edit]
Advanced Exploration Lander

The Advanced Exploration Lander is a three-stage lander concept by a NASA team[which?] used as a design reference for commercial proposals. As proposed, after departure from the Gateway, a transfer module would take the crew to a low lunar orbit and then separate, after which the descent module would handle the rest of the journey to the lunar surface. A crew of up to four could spend up to two weeks on the surface before reboarding the ascent module, which would take them back to the Gateway. Each module would have a mass of approximately 12 to 15 metric tons and would be delivered separately by commercial launchers and integrated at the Gateway. The astronauts would board the lander at the Gateway's near-rectilinear halo orbit that goes between about 1,000 and 70,000 kilometers (620 and 43,500 mi) above the Moon, with the circular low orbit about 100 kilometers (62 mi) high. Both the ascent and transfer modules could be designed to be reused, with the descent module left on the lunar surface.[citation needed]

Boeing's Human Landing System

The Boeing Human Landing System proposal was submitted to NASA in early November 2019. The lander consists of a descent and ascent stage with the descent stage being able to deorbit the lander which eliminates the need for a third transfer stage. The lander is designed to be launched on an SLS Block 1B rather than assembled in multiple launches. The lander was further planned to not require the Gateway and could dock with Orion directly in order to allow for a simpler mission profile. Boeing had partnered with Intuitive Machines to provide engines,[68] and also planned to reuse key technologies from their CST-100 Starliner.[69] An alternative plan for launching the lander was also detailed: In the event the SLS Block 1B was not ready by 2024, the descent stage could launch on an SLS Block 1 while the ascent stage would be launched by a commercial launcher and assembled in lunar orbit.[70] The Boeing proposal was not selected for design funding by NASA in the April 2020 design funding announcements.[23]

Commissioned studies

On 16 May 2019, NASA announced 11 contracts worth $45.5 million in total for studies on transfer vehicles, descent elements, descent element prototypes, refueling element studies and prototypes.[71] One of the requirements is that selected companies will have to contribute at least 20% of the total cost of the project "to reduce costs to taxpayers and encourage early private investments in the lunar economy".[72]

Selection date Company Vehicles Selected to design
16 May 2019 Aerojet Rocketdyne One transfer vehicle study
Blue Origin One descent element study, one transfer vehicle study, and one transfer vehicle prototype 30 April 2020
Boeing One descent element study, two descent element prototypes, one transfer vehicle study, one transfer vehicle prototype, one refueling element study, and one refueling element prototype
Dynetics One descent element study and five descent element prototypes 30 April 2020
Lockheed Martin Space Systems One descent element study, four descent element prototypes, one transfer vehicle study, and one refueling element study
Masten Space Systems One descent element prototype
Maxar (formerly SSL) One refueling element study and one refueling element prototype
Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems One descent element study, four descent element prototypes, one refueling element study, and one refueling element prototype
OrbitBeyond Two refueling element prototypes
Sierra Nevada Corporation One descent element study, one descent element prototype, one transfer vehicle study, one transfer vehicle prototype, and one refueling element study
SpaceX One descent element study, one descent element prototype 30 April 2020
  • The companies selected to design human landing systems are displayed in bold.

HERACLES[edit source | edit]

HERACLES (Human-Enhanced Robotic Architecture and Capability for Lunar Exploration and Science) is a planned ESA-JAXA-CSA space cargo transport system that will feature a robotic lunar lander called European Large Logistic Lander (EL3),[73] which can be configured for different operations such as up to 1.5 tons[clarification needed] of payload,[74] sample-returns, or prospecting resources found on the Moon.[75] ESA approved the project in November 2019.[74][76][77] Its first mission is envisioned for launch[how?] in 2027.[73]

The EL3 lander will be launched directly[how?] to the Moon and will have a landing mass of approximately 1,800 kg (4,000 lb).[78] It will be capable of transporting a Canadian robotic rover to explore, prospect potential resources, and load samples up to 15 kg (33 lb) on the ascent module.[79] The rover would then traverse several kilometers across the Schrödinger basin on the far side of the Moon to explore and collect more samples to load on the next EL3 lander.[80][78] The ascent module would return each time to the Lunar Gateway, where it would be captured by the Canadian robotic arm and samples transferred to an Orion spacecraft for transport to Earth with returning astronauts.[81][82]

Moon Cruiser[edit source | edit]

Designed by Airbus, the Moon Cruiser is a logistics vehicle based off of the ATV and ESM that will be used to support the Gateway. It will be part of ESA's contribution to the Gateway program and As of July 2019 was in the design process. It was planned to be launched on the Ariane 6, the vehicle is being designed to be able to refuel lunar landers and deliver cargo to the Gateway. It is also planned to be used to deliver the European ESPRIT module to the Gateway in 2025. It has also been proposed[by whom?] to turn the vehicle into a transfer stage for a lunar lander. Concepts for a lander variant of the vehicle exist but had not received funding by July 2019.[27][83][needs update]

Dragon XL[edit source | edit]

On March 27, 2020, SpaceX revealed the Dragon XL resupply spacecraft designed to carry pressurized and unpressurized cargo, experiments and other supplies to NASA's planned Gateway under a NASA Gateway Logistics Services (GLS) contract. The equipment delivered by Dragon XL missions could include sample collection materials, spacesuits and other items astronauts may need on the Gateway and on the surface of the Moon, according to NASA. It will launch on SpaceX Falcon Heavy rockets from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Dragon XL is planned to stay at the Gateway for six to 12 months at a time when research payloads inside and outside the cargo vessel could be operated remotely, even when crews are not present. Its payload capacity is expected to be more than 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) to lunar orbit. Unlike previous Dragon variants, the spacecraft will not be reusable and instead focuses on transporting cargo. It will act as the United States' logistics vehicle.[citation needed]

Astronauts[edit source | edit]

On 10 January 2020, NASA's 22nd astronaut group, nicknamed the "Turtles", graduated and were assigned to the Artemis program. The group includes two Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronauts. The group earned their nickname from the prior astronaut group, "The 8-Balls," as is a tradition dating back to "The Mercury Seven" in 1962 which subsequently provided the "Next Nine" with their nickname. They were given this name, for the most part, because of Hurricane Harvey. Some of the astronauts will fly on the Artemis missions to the Moon and maybe part of the first crew to fly to Mars.[84]

Planned surface operations[edit source | edit]

An artist's rendition of an Artemis Astronaut wearing the xEMU Spacesuit and xPLS life support backpack during an EVA on the Moon.

As of February 2020, a lunar stay during a Phase 1 Artemis mission will be about 7 days and will have 5 EVAs. A notional concept of operations (i.e. a hypothetical but possible plan) would include the following: On Day 1 of the stay, Astronauts touchdown on the Moon but do not conduct an EVA, instead, they prepare for the EVA scheduled for the next day in what is referred to as "The Road to EVA". On Day 2, the astronauts open the hatch on the Human Landing System and embark on EVA 1 which will be 6 hours long. it will include collecting a contingency sample, public affairs activities, the deployment of the experiment package, and sample acquisition. The astronauts will stay close to the landing site on this first EVA. EVA 2 begins on day 3, the astronauts characterize and collect samples from permanently shadowed regions. Unlike the previous EVA, the astronauts will go further from the landing site (up to 2 km) and up and down slopes of 20°. Day 4 will not have an EVA but Day 5 will, EVA 3 may include activities such as collecting samples from an ejecta blanket. Day 6 will have the 2 astronauts deploy a geotechnical instrument alongside an environmental monitoring station for In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU). Surface day 7 will have the final and shortest EVA, this EVA will only last 1 hour rather than the others which are 6 hours in duration from egress to ingress. This EVA is mostly just preparations for the lunar liftoff, this includes jettisoning hardware. Once EVA is concluded, the astronauts will go back into the Human Landing System and the vehicle will launch from the surface and join up with Orion/Gateway.[87]

NASA's outline for the Artemis Base Camp

Artemis Base Camp[edit source | edit]

Artemis Base Camp is the prospective lunar base that would be established at the end of the 2020s. It would consist of three main modules: the Foundational Surface Habitat, the Habitable Mobility Platform, and the Lunar Terrain Vehicle. It would support missions of up to two months and be used to study technologies to use on Mars. It would fall under the guidelines of the Outer Space Treaty.[88]

Foundational Surface Habitat[edit source | edit]

Little is known about the surface outpost with most information coming from studies and launch manifests that include its launch. It would be commercially built and possibly commercially launched in 2028 along with the Mobile Habitat.[89] The first habitat is referred to as the Artemis Foundation Habitat formerly the Artemis Surface Asset. Current launch manifests show that landing it on the surface would be similar to the HLS. The pressurized habitat would be sent to the Gateway where it would then be attached to a descent stage separately launched from a commercial launcher, it would utilize the same transfer stage used for the HLS. Other designs from 2019 see it being launched from an SLS Block 1B as a single unit and landing directly on the surface. It would then be hooked up to a surface power system launched by a CLPS mission and tested by the Artemis 6 crew. The location of the base would be in the south pole region and most likely be a site visited by prior crewed and robotic missions.[88][2]

Habitable Mobility Platform[edit source | edit]

The Habitable Mobility Platform would be a large pressurized rover used to transport crews across large distances. NASA has developed multiple pressurized rovers including the Space Exploration Vehicle built for the Constellation program which was fabricated and tested. In the 2020 flight manifest it was referred to as the Mobile Habitat suggesting it could fill a similar role to the ILREC Lunar Bus. It would be ready for the crew to use on the surface but could also be autonomously controlled from the Gateway or other locations. Japan is currently evaluating a large pressurized lunar rover that would be launched in 2029 to the lunar surface and would be part of their contribution to Artemis surface operations.[88][90][91]

A Lunar outpost design from the SEI. The Dynetics HLS bears heavy resemblance to this design

Lunar Terrain Vehicle[edit source | edit]

As announced in November 2019, NASA will be releasing a request for information for unpressurized lunar rovers. The LTV would be propositioned by a CLPS vehicle before the Artemis 3 mission. It would be used to transport crews around the exploration site. It would serve a similar function as the Apollo Lunar Rover.[88]

VIPER[edit source | edit]

The VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover) is a lunar rover by NASA planned to be delivered to the surface of the Moon as early as December 2022. The rover will be tasked with prospecting for lunar resources in permanently shadowed areas in the lunar south pole region, especially by mapping the distribution and concentration of water ice. The mission builds on a previous NASA rover concept called Resource Prospector, which was cancelled in 2018.[92]

The VIPER rover is part of the Lunar Discovery and Exploration Program managed by the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, and it is meant to support the crewed Artemis program.[93] NASA's Ames Research Center is managing the rover project. The hardware for the rover is being designed by the Johnson Space Center, while the instruments are provided by Ames, Kennedy, and Honeybee Robotics.[93] The project manager is Daniel Andrews, and the project scientist is Anthony Colaprete, who is implementing the technology developed for the now cancelled Resource Prospector rover. The estimated cost of the mission is US$250 million.

The VIPER rover will operate at a south pole region yet to be determined. VIPER is planned to rove several kilometers, collecting data on different kinds of soil environments affected by light and temperature —those in complete darkness, occasional light, and in constant sunlight. Once it enters a permanently shadowed location, it will operate on battery power alone and will not be able to recharge them until it drives to a sunlit area. Its total operation time will be approximately 100 Earth days.

Both the launcher and the lander to be used will be competitively provided through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contractors. NASA is aiming at landing the rover as early as December 2022.[94]

Space suits[edit source | edit]

xEMU suit for lunar surface extravehicular activity (EVA)
OCSS suit for launch and reentry

The Artemis program will make use of two space suits: the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU),[95] and the Orion Crew Survival System (OCSS).[96]

The xEMU is for use on the lunar surface, with an endurance of up to eight hours. The suit has movable joints and a bearing to allow for movement of the waist. Audio microphones and speakers are located inside the helmet, instead of using the traditional "Snoopy cap". The astronaut enters the suit from between the backpack and the rest of the suit; zippers, which were an issue with the Apollo suits, were excluded.

The OCSS is to be worn inside the Orion spacecraft during launch and re-entry, in case of a depressurization emergency.[96] The outer layer of the suit is orange to allow for visibility in the ocean if astronauts need to exit the spacecraft without any assistance from recovery personnel. The suit includes enhanced shoulder joints for a better range of reach, and greater fire resistance.

Artemis flights[edit source | edit]

The Orion capsule in the Pacific Ocean, following the successful Exploration Flight Test-1 mission

Orion testing[edit source | edit]

Three tests of the Orion spacecraft have been conducted prior to the launch of Artemis 1. Pad Abort-1, the second and final mission in the preceding Constellation program,[97][98][dubious ] was a successful test of Orion's launch escape system using a boilerplate capsule on 6 May 2010.[97][99] The second test of Orion was Exploration Flight Test-1 on 5 December 2014.[100][101] A stripped down version of the Orion spacecraft was launched atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket, and its reaction control system was tested in two orbits around Earth, reaching an apogee of 5,800 kilometers (3,600 mi) before making a high-energy reentry at 32,000 kilometers per hour (20,000 mph).[102][103] The third and final test of Orion prior to Artemis 1 was Ascent Abort-2 on 2 July 2019, which tested an updated launch abort system at maximum aerodynamic load,[98][104][105] using a 10,000-kilogram (22,000 lb) Orion test article and a custom launch vehicle built by Orbital Sciences.[105][106]

Orion development test flights
Mission Patch Launch Crew Launch vehicle[lower-alpha 1] Outcome Duration
Pad Abort-1
  • 6 May 2010, 13:03:00 UTC
  • White Sands LC-32E
N/A Orion Launch Abort System (LAS) Success 95 seconds
Exploration Flight Test 1
Exploration Flight Test-1 insignia
Success 4 hours 24 minutes
Ascent Abort-2
Ascent Abort-2 insignia
N/A Orion Abort Test Booster Success 3 minutes 13 seconds

Planned missions[edit source | edit]

As of 2019, all crewed Artemis missions will be launched on the Space Launch System from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39B. Current plans call for some supporting hardware to be launched on other vehicles and from other launch pads.

Mission Patch Launch date Crew Launch vehicle Duration
Artemis 1
Exploration Mission-1 patch.png
2021[108] N/A SLS Block 1 Crew ~25d
Artemis 2 2023[109] TBA SLS Block 1 Crew ~10d
Artemis 3 2024 TBA SLS Block 1 Crew ~30d

Proposed missions[edit source | edit]

A proposal curated by William H. Gerstenmaier before his 10 July 2019 reassignment[110] suggests four launches of the SLS Block 1B launch vehicle with crewed Orion spacecraft and logistical modules to the Gateway between 2024 and 2028.[111][112] The crewed Artemis 4 through 7 would launch yearly between 2025 and 2028,[31] testing in situ resource utilization and nuclear power on the lunar surface with a partially reusable lander. Artemis 7 would deliver in 2028 a crew of four astronauts to a surface lunar outpost known as the Foundation Habitat along with the Mobile Habitat.[31] The Foundation Habitat would be launched back to back with the Mobile Habitat by an undetermined launcher[31] and would be used for extended crewed lunar surface missions.[31][113][114] Prior to each crewed Artemis mission, various payloads to the Lunar Gateway, such as refueling depots and expendable elements of the lunar lander, would be deployed by commercial launch vehicles.[112][114] This would leave three SLS launches for use on interplanetary missions such as the Europa Clipper and Europa Lander or launching the crewed Deep Space Transport for a Mars orbital mission in the 2030s.[115][31][89]

Mission Launch date Crew Launch vehicle Duration
Artemis 4 2025 TBA SLS Block 1B Crew ~30d
Artemis 5 2026 TBA SLS Block 1B Crew ~30d
Artemis 6 2027 TBA SLS Block 1B Crew ~30d
Artemis 7 2028 TBA SLS Block 1B Crew ~30d
Artemis 8 2029 TBA SLS Block 1B Crew ~60d
Artemis 9 2030 TBA SLS Block 1B Crew ~60d

Support missions[edit source | edit]

Artemis support missions are robotic missions flown through both the CLPS program and Gateway program.[116]

Year Mission objective Mission name Launch vehicle
2021 NRHO Pathfinder mission CAPSTONE CAPSTONE[117] Electron
Q4 2021 First launch of the Peregrine 1 lunar lander by Astrobotic[118] Peregrine 1 Vulcan[119]
Q4 2021 First launch of the Nova-C lunar lander by Intuitive Machines[26] Artemis support mission Falcon 9
Q4 2022 Delivery of NASA's VIPER rover to the lunar surface[120] VIPER Commercial launch vehicle
2022 Tools for mapping the lunar surface temperature, radiation, and hydrogen delivered by Masten XL-1[121] Commercial launch vehicle
2022 PRIME ISRU tech demonstration, lunar ice to H2O PRIME-1[122] Commercial launch vehicle
Dec 2022[123] Launch of the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE)[124] Artemis support mission Falcon Heavy[123]
2023 [125][126] Delivery of the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) to the Gateway Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle[125]
2023 Fuel Cells Demo 1 delivered to surface via CLPS lander[89] Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2024 Delivery of expendable ascent element for Artemis 3 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2024 Delivery of expendable transfer element for Artemis 3 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2024 Delivery of expendable descent element for Artemis 3 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2024 Delivery of the Lunar Terrain Vehicle ahead of Artemis 3[127] Artemis Support Mission Commercial launch vehicle
2024 ISRU Subsystems, lunar regolith to O2, performed by crew on surface Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2025 Delivery of ESPRIT module to the Gateway Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2025 (Proposed) delivery of expendable ascent element for Artemis 4 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2025 (Proposed) delivery of expendable descent element for Artemis 4 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2025 (Proposed) delivery of expendable transfer element for Artemis 4 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2025 Fuel Cells Demo 2 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2026 Delivery of iHAB to the Gateway Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2026 (Proposed) delivery of reusable ascent element for Artemis 5 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2026 (Proposed) delivery of reusable transfer element for Artemis 5 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2026 (Proposed) delivery of descent element for Artemis 5 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2027 (Proposed) delivery of a Gateway station module Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2027 (Proposed) refueling of ascent element for Artemis 6 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2027 (Proposed) refueling of transfer element for Artemis 6 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2027 (Proposed) delivery of descent module for Artemis 6 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2027 Cryo Fluid Management Systems Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2027 Surface power crew demonstration mission Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2028 (Proposed) delivery of a Gateway station module Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2028 (Proposed) refueling of ascent element for Artemis 7 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2028 (Proposed) refueling of transfer element for Artemis 7 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2028 (Proposed) delivery of descent module for Artemis 7 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2028 (Proposed) delivery of the Foundation Hab to the lunar south pole[89] Artemis support mission Space Launch System Block 2
2028 (Proposed) delivery of the Mobile Hab to the lunar south pole Artemis support mission Space Launch System Block 2
2029 (Proposed) refueling of ascent element for Artemis 8 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2029 (Proposed) refueling of transfer element for Artemis 8 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2029 (Proposed) delivery of descent module for Artemis 8 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2030 (Proposed) refueling of ascent element for Artemis 9 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2030 (Proposed) refueling of transfer element for Artemis 9 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle
2030 (Proposed) refueling of ascent element for Artemis 9 Artemis support mission Commercial launch vehicle

Criticism[edit source | edit]

The Artemis program has received criticisms from several space professionals:

Mark Whittington, who is a contributor to The Hill and an author of several space exploration studies, stated in an article that the "lunar orbit project doesn't help us get back to the Moon".[128]

Aerospace engineer, author, and Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin has voiced his distaste for the Lunar Gateway which is part of the Artemis program as of 2019. He presented an alternative approach to a 2024 crewed lunar landing called Moon Direct, a successor to his proposed Mars Direct. His vision phases out the SLS and Orion, replacing them with the SpaceX launch vehicles and Dragon 2. It also proposes using a heavy ferry/lander that would be refueled on the lunar surface via In situ resource utilization and transfer the crew from LEO to the lunar surface. The concept bears a heavy resemblance to NASA's own Space Transportation System proposal from the 1970s.

Former Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin disagrees with NASA's current goals and priorities, including their plans for a lunar outpost. He also questioned the benefit of the idea to "send a crew to an intermediate point in space, pick up a lander there and go down". However, Aldrin expressed support for Robert Zubrin's Moon Direct concept which involves lunar landers traveling from Earth orbit to the lunar surface and back.[129]

House Authorization Bill of 2020[edit source | edit]

The leadership of the House Science Committee introduced a bipartisan NASA authorization bill on 24 January 2020 that would significantly alter NASA's current plans to return humans to the Moon and rather would focus on a Mars orbital mission in 2033. Bill H.R. 5666 would change the lunar landing date from 2024 to 2028 and put the program as a whole underneath a larger space exploration plan. The bill is currently stuck in the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and there have been no committee votes or further action as of May 2020. Major proposed changes include:[130][131]

  • Creation of a new Moon to Mars program office with a goal of landing humans on Mars "in a sustainable manner as soon as practicable"
  • A 2028 target date for a lunar landing to allow the technology to mature
  • A NASA developed expendable Human Landing System (HLS), something along the line of the Advanced Exploration Lander or the expendable Altair design
  • An integrated Orion / HLS system launching on a single Space Launch System Block 1B, similar to the Saturn / Apollo combination possibly using the Boeing HLS design
  • The requirement one uncrewed and one crewed test flight of the HLS before a lunar landing is attempted, something not currently required
  • Once operational, the system would perform two lunar landings a year rather than one
  • No base would be set up on the lunar surface rather, the missions would follow the "flag and footsteps" approach of Apollo
  • Development of the Lunar Gateway as a separate program to test Mars transportation technologies and not be required for lunar operations
  • ISRU technologies would be managed under a program separate from the Moon to Mars campaign and not be required for either mission
  • International Space Station funding would be extended to 2030

Gallery[edit source | edit]

See also[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]


  1. Serial number displayed in parentheses.


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