Artemis III: NASA Shares Plans for First Return to Lunar Surface in 50 Years


If all goes to plan, NASA will be sending four astronauts to the Moon in 2025. As a part of the Artemis III mission, the quartet will be the first people to step foot on the lunar service in over 50 years since Apollo 17 traveled there in 1972. In an extensive new blog post, NASA officials detailed the steps the Artemis III mission will take from launch, to landing and the Moon and returning back on Earth.

As with NASA's successful Artemis I mission, Artemis III will use the Orion spacecraft atop a rocket outfit known as the Space Launch System (SLS). Launching from the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39B, Artemis III astronauts will first launch into the planet's orbit so that they can perform systems checks and adjust Orion's solar panels so that they have the energy to make it to the Moon. After another boost from the SLS's interim cryogenic propulsion stage while in orbit, the Orion capsule will be set on course to the Moon.

The flight from Earth orbit to the Moon will take several days as astronauts make a handful of corrective engine burns to ensure smooth travel to the Moon's gravitational field. Once in lunar orbit, Artemis III will then board a SpaceX-made craft to depart from the spacecraft and down onto the lunar surface. Two astronauts will travel to the Moon while the other two remain aboard Orion in lunar orbit.

Once on the Moon, the astronauts will perform a series of moonwalks while exploring the lunar surface, capturing photos and videos for NASA, retrieving geological samples, and completing other scientific objectives. After completing the experiments on the Moon, the duo will return to Orion, where they'll spend another five days in orbit around the Moon. Orion will then ignite its engines and coast back to Earth before a splash dow in the Pacific Ocean.

If Artemis III were to follow a similar timeframe as Artemis I, it'd spend over 25 days in space between launch and splash down.

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