How will we get there?
A lot has changed since the last time humans went to the moon! The journey to the Moon will involve new methods and technologies to support larger crews, longer visits, and, eventually, living on the Moon. NASA and its partners are currently working on some exciting projects:
The Space Launch System (SLS) Rocket: The SLS rocket is designed to be adaptable and powerful enough to take astronauts to the Moon and even Mars. It reaches a speed of 24,500 miles per hour to get to the Moon. The rocket consists of two separate rockets attached to a central core stage, and the astronauts ride on top, just like the Saturn V rocket from the Apollo missions.
The Orion Spacecraft: The astronauts will travel to the Moon and back in the Orion Spacecraft. It has different modules, including the Support Module, which keeps the astronauts alive with necessary systems, fuel for navigation, and solar panels for power. The Escape Module allows the astronauts to get away from the SLS rocket if there’s a problem during launch. The Crew Module is designed to accommodate four astronauts and is more spacious on the inside than the Command Module used in the Apollo mission. When the Crew Module returns to Earth, it uses a heat shield to enter the atmosphere and giant parachutes to land safely in the ocean.
The Gateway: The Gateway will be a hub in lunar orbit where astronauts transfer from the Crew Module to a lunar lander. It can also store the supplies needed to build and sustain a community on the Moon and serve as a future outpost for missions to Mars and beyond.
Human Landing System: For getting humans to the Moon’s surface, NASA selected SpaceX to develop a Starship that can land astronauts on the Moon. The Starship is designed to be more robust than the Lunar Module used in the Apollo missions. Astronauts can reach the Moon directly from Earth without docking with the Gateway.
Artemis Base Camp: In the future, NASA plans to send teams of astronauts to live and work on the Moon for longer periods. They are designing habitats, space suits, and lunar vehicles to make this possible. Experiments on the International Space Station and on Earth are helping astronauts learn how to grow food in space. Robotic missions like VIPER will search for water and help scientists understand the Moon’s environment. Subsequent uncrewed missions will land the supplies needed to set up camp.
Learn more about how we are getting to the Moon: