Here’s When NASA Expects Humans Will Live on the Moon

by Caitlin Berard
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(Photo by Elen11 / NASA via Getty Images)

With seemingly endless engine issues and tropical storms, it felt as though the Artemis 1 launch would never happen. Four failed attempts later, however, the day finally came. The uncrewed rocket successfully departed NASA‘s Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, November 16, beginning its nearly 300,000-mile journey to the Moon.

Though every launch is a monumental event, the Artemis mission is a particularly special one. Named after the Greek goddess of the Moon, NASA’s Artemis rocket will first orbit the lunar surface and then venture approximately 40,000 miles into deep space.

Attached to Artemis is Orion, aptly named after Artemis’ hunting companion. And though it’s true that Artemis 1 is a crew-less mission, Orion is carrying special cargo – a Moonikin. With the Moonikin (a specialized mannequin)’s help, NASA will research the impacts of deep space flight on the human body.

Once phase 1 is complete, Artemis 2 will launch, bringing a crewed flight into deep space, marking the furthest humans have ever traveled from Earth. After that comes Artemis 3, the mission’s true crowning achievement. In this phase, the first female astronaut and the first astronaut of color will land on the Moon and spend a week studying the lunar surface.

If all goes according to plan, NASA will be several steps closer to achieving its long-term goal: colonizing the Moon. Using the technology and research from the Artemis flights, NASA intends to send astronauts to Mars and eventually build a habitable Moon base.

NASA Official Says Moon Base Will Arrive Sooner Than You Think

For now, human colonies on the Moon are reserved for science fiction. NASA officials firmly believe, however, that this once-impossible future could become a reality sooner than you think.

Howard Hu, leader of NASA’s Orion spacecraft program, revealed that Artemis and Orion aren’t collecting data and testing components for some distant future. The plan among NASA officials is to have humans living safely on the Moon “in this decade.”

And it’s for this reason that Howard Hu couldn’t help but feel emotional about his contribution to the mission. “It’s the first step we’re taking to long-term deep space exploration,” Hu explained to BBC. “Not just for the United States but for the world. And I think this is a historic day for NASA, but it’s also a historic day for all the people who love human space flight and deep space exploration.”

“I mean, we are going back to the moon,” he continued. “We’re working towards a sustainable program and this is the vehicle that will carry the people that will land us back on the moon again.”

“We’re going to be sending people down to the surface,” Hu added with excitement. “And they’re going to be living on that surface and doing science.”

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