Can NASA put a woman on the Moon in 2024?
The space agency is preparing for its second lunar manned mission, and plans to do exactly that through its upcoming Artemis program, the Indian Express reported.
In a bid to ensure that astronauts are prepared for lower gravity environment of the Moon, NASA is now using a huge water tank to prepare them for the challenges that arise while going into space.
In a recent blog post, the US space agency said that it is using its Neutral Buoyancy Lab which is located at the Johnson Space Center in Houston for preparing potential astronauts.
At the moment, the teams are in the early stages of evaluating how the astronauts would live and work on the Moon.
NASA also released a recent photo demonstrating on how astronauts use the facility in the blog.
Astronauts Drew Feustel and Don Pettit are among those training in the giant water tank. The facility is primarily used for training the astronauts for spacewalks outside the International Space Station.
The US agency explained that the teams are moving around, setting up habitats, collecting samples and deploying experiments as they will on the Moon.
The space agency explained that its astronauts wear weighted vests and backpacks to simulate walking on the Moon, which has one-sixth the gravity of Earth.
To prepare for the 2024 Artemis mission (Artemis is Apollo’s twin sister), NASA has also recently given a US$13.7 million contract to Advanced Space, an engineering services company based in Boulder, Colorado, for developing and operating a lunar orbital CubeSat mission that will be launched as early as December 2020.
According to CNN, the program will involve the Orion spacecraft, the Gateway and the Space Launch System rocket, known as SLS. One of the key features of the program is sustainable space exploration with reusable spacecraft and architecture, which could later take humans to Mars.
“Similar to the 1960s, we too have an opportunity to take a giant leap forward for all of humanity,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said. “President Trump and Vice President Pence have given us a bold direction to return to the Moon by 2024 and then go forward to Mars. Their direction is not empty rhetoric. They have backed up their vision with the budget requests needed to accomplish this objective. NASA is calling this the Artemis program in honor of Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology, the goddess of the Moon. And we are well on our way to getting this done.”
The Orion spacecraft can carry four crew members and support deep-space missions, unlike previous craft designed for short flights.
Orion will dock at the Gateway, a spaceship that will go into orbit around the moon and be used as a lunar outpost. About 250,000 miles from Earth, the Gateway will allow easier access to the entire surface of the moon and potentially deep-space exploration.
After a crew-less test of Artemis 1,astronauts will launch on Artemis 2, and the first woman and next man to walk on the moon will launch on Artemis 3.