NASA’s website calls the Artemis program Apollo’s twin. Its immediate goal is revitalising the US space program and sending the first woman and person of color to the Moon. It is supposed to be the foundation for a sustained international stay of humanity on the Moon. The end goal is making going to Mars very feasible. NASA also wants to build a base camp on the moon, which would be used to test technologies that later could be sent to Mars. The project was initiated under the Trump administration and accelerated to the deadline of a landing in 2024, (which NASA deems highly unrealistic). This is possibly due to trying to get the US ahead in potential space mining and commercialising of space. Biden’s administration endorsed the program in February. There are many nations involved to help facilitate space mining and an international law that makes it peaceful. Russia has criticised the US for making that law centered around itself.
How does it compare with the Apollo program? I think that the Apollo program was a much greater technological leap than Artemis. Buzz Aldrin questioned the idea to “send a crew to an intermediate point in space, pick up a lander there and go down”. I personally feel that the intermediate step of going to the Moon is unnecessary; I feel like NASA should head straight to Mars like Space X is planning to. The goal of sending more women into space could be also achieved at an even grander scale, if it was on a mission to Mars. I don’t believe that there will be a permanent colony on the Moon simply because it would cost a lot to get astronauts to and from the surface. The ISS is already an immensely expensive project, and astronauts cannot stay on board for more than a few months, due to weightlessness. It might not be as bad on the Moon, but people would not stay there for 20+ years. Furthermore, I think that the ISS achieves the same or even more in terms of benefits to humanity, since it allows for experiments in weightlessness and observation of the Earth. We already know a ton about the Moon, so going back seems pointless when Mars awaits.
Where should we build the Moon research base? I think, the station should be build in one of the flat regions, in order for ease of landing. It should also be on the side that faces the Earth because that might allow for easier communication and psychological comfort for the astronauts.
Should we bring our own water, or search for it on the Moon? There is Lunar water on the Moon from comets, which was discovered in 1971. Scientists claim that it would make habitation much more feasible, but delivering equipment to extract that water seems more costly than just delivering it. The deposits found so far are relatively small, thus this plan still needs a few more years to work.
I believe that the Artemis program can revitalise the idea of putting people onto other planetary bodies, which can inspire a generation of astronauts and engineers. However, I do not believe that this is a good project for NASA to pursue long term, aside from possible mining. I think it’s time for humanity to take the next big step and go to Mars.
Artemis 1. (n.d.). ESA. https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Orion/Artemis_1
Foust, J. (2018, November 16). Advisory group skeptical of NASA lunar exploration plans. SpaceNews. https://spacenews.com/advisory-group-skeptical-of-nasa-lunar-exploration-plans/
Mann, A. (2019, July 3). NASA’s Artemis Program. Space.Com. https://www.space.com/artemis-program.html
NASA ujawnia szczegóły programu Artemis. (2019, May 28). Space24. https://www.space24.pl/nasa-ujawnia-szczegoly-programu-artemis