Astronauts are on their way to living and working on the moon before the end of the decade, according to a Nasa official.
Howard Hu, the head of the agency’s Orion lunar space program, said that humans could operate on the moon for “duration” before 2030, with habitats to live and pirates to support their work.
“Certainly in this decade we’re going to have people for durations, depending on how long we’re going to be on the surface. They will have residents, they will have wanderers on the land, said the BBC Sunday with the program Laura Kuenssberg. “We’re going to send people to the surface and they’re going to live on that surface and do science,” he added.
NASA’s Hu space shuttle was launched in February on a deep exploration mission, and on Sunday it was announced that the 98-metre (322ft) Artemis rocket had successfully reached the moon on its first mission.
The giant rocket, which is powered by the Orion spacecraft, was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Wednesday after a series of delays due to technical glitches and storms.
The boat carries three fully-suited mannequins that convey the emotions and moods of Artemisia 1. The rocket is now about 83,000 miles (134,000km) from the moon.
“It’s the first step” to exploring the depth of time, not just for the United States but for the world. I think this is a historic day for Nasa, but it’s also a historic day for all people who love human spaceflight and deep exploration,” Hu said.
“We are going to the moon. We are working to sustain the program and this is the vehicle that will carry the people that will land us back on the moon,” he added.
The spacecraft will fly within 60 kilometers of the moon and last for another 40,000 miles before turning back and heading for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on December 11. The spacecraft will travel 1.3m miles on a 25-day mission, making it the furthest human-built spacecraft ever flown.
On re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will accelerate at about 25,000 mph, sending the temperature of its heat shield up to about 2,800C (5,000F). They are expected to flood the coast of San Diego.
A successful mission will pave the way for the Diana 2 and 3 flights, both of which will send humans around the moon and back. The Artemis III mission, which may not launch until 2026, is expected to return humans to the lunar surface for the first time since Apollo 17 in December 1972. Under NASA plans, the mission would be the first woman to land on the moon, with a subsequent visit to the port of the first person of color on the lunar surface .
The program, named Diana’s twin sister to Apollo, also plans to build a Moon Gate, a space station where astronauts live and work as they orbit the moon. “Progress is really to Mars,” Hu told the BBC. “So it’s a major stepping stone, a two-year journey, so it’s going to be really important to learn beyond our Earth orbit.”
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