CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 2: In this handout image provided by NASA, NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B as preparations for launch continue at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on September 2, 2022, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA's Artemis I flight test is the first integrated test of the agency's deep space exploration systems: the Orion spacecraft, SLS rocket, and supporting ground systems. The launch of the uncrewed flight test is targeted for Sept. 3 at 2:17 p.m.  (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images) S
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The Reason Why NASA's Artemis Program Doesn't Have Reusable Rockets
Initially announced in December 2017, the Artemis Program is a reboot of the original Apollo missions to reach the Moon’s surface and seeks to establish a presence on the Moon to ease the efforts of reaching Mars. The Artemis Program uses staged rockets similar to those during the Apollo era, but some have wondered why NASA chose single-use rockets once again.
While the staged rockets are expensive and create debris, one of the main reasons for their use is the safety issues behind the alternative: the space shuttle program. Shuttles provided a multi-use platform to haul payloads and crews up to space, but they suffered from a general lack of safety, with the 1986 Challenger explosion and the 2003 Columbia burnout being cited as concerns.
In addition to the safety issues in both the launch sequence and reentry procedures, the cost of reusable rockets far exceeded expectations, leading NASA to shut the program down in 2011. Space shuttles were a valuable asset in building the International Space Station, but the Artemis Program’s multi-stage rockets are better suited for traveling beyond our terrestrial proximity.