Sounding like an excited new parent, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson declared during a press briefing Wednesday that the agency’s Artemis mission is ready to take its first physical steps to return to the moon and sometime later head to Mars, according to UPI.
Laying out an effort that will include international and commercial partners, Nelson said Artemis I will take off for months-long orbiting around the moon to test its hardware and systems in the final preparation for a manned flight.
Nelson, though, was clear that returning to the moon is just a stepping stone to a future trip to Mars, where humans will work and prepare for NASA’s bigger human exploration prize down the road.
“We’re going to Mars and we’re going back to the moon, in order to work, to live and to survive,” Nelson said. “[We’re going to] learn how to use the resources on the moon in order to be able to build things in the future.”
He said Artemis I and II will prepare NASA “not a three-day journey, but millions and millions of miles away on a months and months, if not years, journey. And we’re going together. We’re going with our commercial partners and we’re going with our international partners.”
The earliest launch date for the unmanned Artemis I mission will be Aug. 29 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
During the mission, an unmanned Orion capsule, like one that ultimately would take astronauts to the moon and back, will circle the moon in an oblong orbit coming as close as 62 miles and as far as 30,000 miles in a full test of all of its capabilities before returning to Earth and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.
“We’ve got a lot of testing to do,” Nelson said. “This is now the Artemis generation. We were in the Apollo generation. This is a new generation. This is a new type of astronaut. To all of us to gaze up at the moon, dreaming of the day humankind returns to the lunar surface, folks we’re here.”
Mike Sarafin, the Artemis I mission manager, said everything will be scrutinized from the rocket’s trip to the launching pad to the separation of stages to splashdown.
“Everything has to be working perfectly,” Sarafin said. “We’re going to be flying into the deep space, high radiation environment. We will experience what it’s like for our astronauts to fly in subsequent missions under those conditions.”
Source: Azerbaijan State News Agency