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The Artemis 3 mission may not land on the moon

The Artemis 3 mission may not land on the moon

According to NASA’s original plans, humanity will once again set foot on the Moon with the Artemis 3 mission, which is expected to take place between the end of 2025 and mid-2026. It turns out that this project may undergo modifications – the main reason for this is SpaceX.

Let’s understand this story:

  • The first mission of NASA’s new moon exploration program was Artemis 1, launched in November 2022, an unmanned flight that served as a test run for the massive rover. Space launch system (SLS) and the Orion capsule;
  • In April of this year, the names of the astronauts who will be part of the Artemis 2 mission, which will be the first manned mission to the moon in over 50 years, were revealed;
  • During this flight, which is scheduled for 2024, the crew will spend 10 days in orbit around the Moon to study the star, without going down to the surface.
  • Humans will only set foot on the Earth again with the Artemis 3 mission, which is scheduled to take off in about one to two years;
  • However, for that to be possible, some key elements would have to be in place by then — among them the SpaceX spacecraft lander, which seems far from complete.
Spacecraft rocket explosion. Something similar happened in April during the launch of what will be the rocket’s first orbital flight test, and the episode could delay NASA’s plans to land astronauts on the Moon again. Credit: SpaceX

Humankind’s great return to the Moon since 1972 will be the landing at the South Pole of Earth’s natural satellite, where ice can be collected and turned into rocket fuel.

From there, NASA plans a series of missions of increasing complexity to establish a sustainable human presence, with the main goal of developing and testing technologies for a final trip to Mars.

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The agency has contracted with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to develop a lander based on the Starship Super rocket, which will take a long time to complete, after completing the necessary revisions since the vehicle’s orbital test flight ended with a powerful explosion in April.

If it’s not done in a timely manner, “we will likely end up on a different mission,” Jim Frye, associate administrator in the agency’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, said at a news conference Tuesday.

This could mean that the scope of the Artemis 3 mission will be changed, except for the landing, or that this flight will continue as planned, but much later than the expected schedule.

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