top of page

The Artemis Mission: Returning to The Moon

Mahanoy City, PA

Orion and Gateway near the moon
Orion near the moon

The moon has always been the center of attention in space exploration. When someone mentions NASA, most people think of the first moon landing. NASA is returning to those roots by launching the Artemis Program. When NASA was first created, its main goal was to win the Space Race and prove America’s technological superiority over Russia. In 1969, NASA officially won the race when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. The lunar surface is where Neil Armstrong said his famous words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he placed the American flag to mark their victory. This is seemingly one of the most influential missions that NASA has done, impacting the entire world.

However, now it’s not just about making it to the moon. NASA intends to impact the world in more ways than space exploration. The initial goal of this program is to have the first woman, person of color, and international partner step foot on the moon while applying the latest innovations to explore the lunar surface like never before. Countries such as Australia, Brazil, and Canada have signed the Artemis Accords, partnering with NASA to establish a long-term presence on the moon. The Artemis Program aims to use the power of equality and diversity to enhance technological development for the benefit of all. This mission goes even deeper than scientific discovery, establishing a global alliance with inspiration for future generations.

The program began in 2017 intending to send astronauts back to space in the 2020s. Artemis I was the first flight test of NASA’s Deep Space Exploration Systems. In 2022, the Orion Spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS) successfully lifted off at the JFK Space Center. This uncrewed lunar flight test was conducted over an astounding 25.5 days. The splashdown occurred on December 11th, which marked 53 days from the Apollo 11 mission. The first test of Artemis I was a great achievement that blasted off a historic journey for NASA.

The second Artemis Mission builds off of Artemis I, with an expected launch in September 2025. Artemis II is preparing for a crewed test with an expected mission duration of 10 days. To ensure that the systems are working perfectly, they will need to orbit the Earth twice. It is anticipated that the first orbit will last about 90 minutes and the second, larger one will last approximately 23.5 hours. It is up to the crew to check on critical systems throughout the flight. Artemis II will confirm the Orion Spacecraft’s abilities, giving NASA the information needed for the next mission.

The agency is now working on Artemis III with the help of SpaceX, a company founded by Elon Musk. Together, they are developing the Starship Human Landing System (HLS). This system is a variant of SpaceX’s Starship, specifically made to transfer astronauts to the moon and back. NASA and SpaceX launched the third flight test of their Super Heavy Starship system on March 14th, 2024. The Starship was stacked on top of the Super Heavy booster, powered by a group of thirty-three raptor engines fueled by super-cooled liquid methane and liquid oxygen. Three minutes into the flight, the Starship disengaged from the Super Heavy Booster, utilizing its raptor engines just as planned.

This test successfully accomplished a few primary tasks that are important for future development, such as reaching its expected orbit and attaining its full-duration ascent burn, which is the burn time of the engine. An important aspect of these test flights is the cryogenic fuel within the tanks of the Starship. These thousands of pounds of propellant slosh around in the tanks when the engines shut down, further affecting the Starship’s stability. Since this can greatly affect the flight, engineers will use the data to get a better understanding of the thrusters. All information is contributing to the development of the final launch, anticipated for September 2026.



bottom of page