NASA has announced an updated Artemis plan for 2024 that will see the first woman and the next man land on the moon. The updated plan comes after a series of critical contract awards and hardware milestones for the mission. It has been 18 months since NASA agreed to accelerate exploration plans by more than four years with the goal of establishing sustainable exploration of the end of the decade.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine says that Congress’s bipartisan support is helping the agency push towards the moon, noting that the mission is well within reach. The administrator also said that the agency has solidified its exploration plans in recent months and continues to refine its budget and mission architecture.
The formal plan NASA has updated shares Artemis progress to date and identifies key science, technology, and human missions. The plan also outlines commercial and international partnerships. The mission will be launched using the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft with NASA, noting that the equipment is closer than ever to its first integrated launch.
SLS has completed its first hot fire test of the core stage and was shipped to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for integration with the spacecraft. NASA intends to launch the SLS and Orion together in two test flights around the moon to check spacecraft performance as well as life-support and communications capability. The first of those missions is Artemis I and it’s on track for 2021.
Artemis II could fly with crew in 2023. Before those missions happen, NASA intends to send dozens of science investigations and technology demonstrations to the moon on robotic missions. The investigations demonstrations will be sent to the moon twice a year starting in 2021. In 2024, Artemis III will return humans to the moon landing the first astronauts on the lunar South Pole. The PDF of NASA’s full Artemis plan is available here.