NASA's plan to return to the moon
After US President Donald Trump confirmed that the mission to return to the moon should be completed before the end of 2024, NASA stated that the timetable is very tight so we have to go at full speed.
It also explained that this process carries a certain number of risks that require many years of practical know-how, especially in the qualification phase and ground tests, as well as there is something unknown about the landing craft, as it is the modern version of the Apollo "moon landing craft".
NASA estimates the total cost of the Artemis program, which will extend until 2025, at about $ 28 billion, including $ 16 billion for the landing system alone. Although it considers the budget allocated for such a mission unknown and the most important topic and issue.
This means a significant increase in the budget allocated to the space agency, which was rejected by the majority Democratic House of Representatives last July. However, the budget negotiations are still going on, and everyone is waiting for the results of the upcoming elections in November, including NASA, and that discussions have begun on the budget allocated to it, as former President Obama had canceled the return to the moon project during his tenure.
NASA's plan focuses on the next four years, with the first, second, and third Artemis missions being important components; The first is the space takeoff system that will replace the Saurn-5 missile that characterized the Apollo program, and the second component is the Orion capsule, which is supposed to carry a crew of 4 astronauts and orbit them around the moon.
She also indicated that the Artemis program development plan has been delayed despite the fact that work has already been launched since 2011, and the US budget has cost about $ 18 billion at the time, and it is expected that the cost of each takeoff will reach about two billion dollars.
The first Artemis mission is expected to begin the first space flight with the Orion Space Takeoff System in November 2021, and it will be an unmanned flight with a duration of 4 to 6 weeks.
The Orion capsule will be loaded with equipment to record and monitor the behavior of the capsule in Earth's orbit, and then during the round-trip flight to the moon, and during re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere, without the presence of people inside.
As for the second mission, it is supposed to be carried out during the second half of 2023 and will take about 10 days. After testing Orion's motion in Earth's orbit, the crew members will distance themselves from the planet's gravity to follow what experts call the free return route. After drawing a ring around the moon, Orion will naturally return toward Earth.
In the last quarter of 2024, the third Artemis mission, which includes two astronauts, is expected to take off. Once orbiting the moon, they will take their places in a landing craft and land on its surface.