One More Step to Mars!

The Next Step!

The world watched in awe as Neil Armstrong put his foot on the surface of the moon on July 21, 1969, and his famous words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” resonated across the globe.

Now, 50 years later, we begin our lunar quest again. This time with advanced technology only dreamed of in the mid-20th century. A sci-fi fantasy then, but not anymore. Let’s take a look at what’s in store for this new exciting journey!

Artemis

The Orion rocket. Part of the Artemis System
The Orion rocket. Part of the Artemis System

Unlike Neil Armstrong’s day, the Artemis project is led by NASA but includes a collaboration of international partners and is a project designed for greater ventures beyond the moon. A stepping stone if you will, with the final destination – Mars.

Named after the twin sister of Apollo, Artemis is a fitting name for this venture as one of its plans is to put the first woman on the moon. The moon will act as a testing ground for the new technologies put forward and if successful, will pave the way for these systems for deep space exploration.

Another difference from the moon landing of 1969, the new spaceship will drop down on the lunar’s south pole. This is of particular interest to scientists since there exists water and ice in this region. Water is a critical resource for sustaining life and can also be converted into oxygen for breathing and hydrogen for rocket fuel.

This research will lead to the establishment of a sustainable infrastructure that can support a long-term human presence.

The Programs Supported by the Artemis Project

The development of the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft are two of the major developments being developed now. Let’s take a closer look.

The Space Launch System

Artemis 1 Moon Rocket on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Florida photograph taken March 2022
Artemis 1 Moon Rocket on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Florida March 2022. iStock

In a nutshell, the SLS is the super heavy rocket that will propel the Orion spacecraft and its crew into deep space. This is the first of the two main components of the Artemis project. The SLS consists of a rocket and its boosters that will blast the astronauts to the moon and later to deep space.

It will lift off with 8.8 million pounds of thrust and is equipped with four RS-25 core engines in two boosters, as well as an upper-stage booster, They will be using liquid hydrogen and oxygen as their fuel.

No other rocket in history is going to have the advancements of the SLS. With its ambitious design for deep space, it will contain life support technology for long journeys, as well as advancements in navigation and communications, and will also contain a powerful radiation shield for re-entry.

The Orion Spacecraft

The Orion Spacecraft
Orion spacecraft. Elements of this image furnished by NASA. iStock

The Orion Spacecraft is the reusable capsule located at the upper component of the SLS where the astronauts will reside and will contain the modules that will land on the moon. Similar to the lunar module that landed on the lunar surface in 1969.

It can provide life support for up to six crew members for up to 21 days. Orion is a critical part of NASA’s Artemis program and will be the rocket used to land on the lunar surface and to prepare for the mission to move on to Mars.