NASA has revealed its mission to send humans back to the Moon in 2024 will be named Artemis after the Greek goddess of the Moon and the twin sister of the god Apollo.
Among the crew will be a female astronaut. NASA landed the first humans on the Moon in the late 1960s with repeated missions in the 70s. In all instances, only male astronauts set foot on our lunar satellite.
“I think it is very beautiful that 50 years after Apollo, the Artemis program will carry the next man and the first woman to the Moon,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“I have a daughter who is 11 years old, and I want her to be able to see herself in the same role as the next women that go to the Moon.”
Extra cash required to meet Space Directive
Bridenstine announced the mission name as part of NASA’s updated budget request. The agency is asking for an additional 1.6 billion dollars to help get the Artemis program underway. The current government has directed NASA to accelerate its Moon mission.
President Donald Trump tweeted that he would update the current federal budget to include the additional 1.6 billion dollars that were requested. The president’s current budget already has 21 billion dollars allocated for the agency.
New powerful rocket developed for Moon and Mars missions
Part of the additional funding will be used to speed up the development of vehicles needed for the mission. These include a new powerful rocket called the Space Launch System, or the SLS, as well as a new crew-carrying spacecraft called Orion.
The SLS will launch the Orion into deep space from where it will continue its journey towards the Moon. These two vehicles are expected to be tested in 2020, but the exact date is yet to be set.
NASA has boasted that ‘this time we’ll stay’ when describing a future Moon mission that would see the development of a space station orbiting the Moon.
But in a bid to get to the Moon faster plans for the space station, dubbed ‘Gateway’ have been scaled down.
Private companies team up with the Agency
Despite asking for a lot of money for the mission, NASA won’t be developing all the required technology alone.
“We’re not going to go forward alone,” Mark Sirangelo, the special assistant to the NASA administrator in charge of the agency’s Moon to Mars campaign, said during the press conference.
“We’re going to look at different ways that we can partner with our commercial partners, partner with our international partners, and with our universities.”
The commercialization of space exploration is one way that NASA can achieve the ambitious goals directed by the government. NASA has already announced partnerships with several private companies that will help it achieve its mission goals.
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