Can an Australian become a NASA astronaut?

With the Artemis program, NASA will send both female and male astronauts to the moon by 2024. For the first time in the history of space travel, a woman will set foot on the moon. The astronauts are scheduled to land at the south pole of our moon. NASA will work with companies and international partners such as the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Australian Space Agency (ASA) and the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA). A sustainable human presence on the moon is to be achieved by 2028. What scientists and aerospace engineers will learn on the moon serves as preparation for the next big step in mankind's space ambitions of sending astronauts to Mars.

Artemis program missions

The Artemis program consists of a number of missions, namely Artemis 1, Artemis 2, Artemis 3 and so on. A fixed timeline was assigned to each of these missions as planned.

Objectives of the Artemis program

  • The main focus of the Artemis mission is to prepare us for Mars. With the Artemis program, humanity will visit another planet in our solar system for the first time in space history and establish a permanent presence there. As part of this ambitious program, humanity is taking the first steps to evolve from a planet-bound species to a multi-planetary species.
  • As part of the Artemis program, resources are obtained from the moon, which are then to be used for the coming Mars missions.
  • From a purely scientific point of view, the research projects carried out as part of the Artemis program should help to better understand the universe and its existence.

Why is it called the Artemis Program?

In Greek mythology, Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo, the god of light, healing, spring, moral purity and moderation, as well as prophecy and the arts, especially music, poetry and song. Artemis, in turn, is the goddess of the moon, the hunt, the forest and childbirth. In addition, she is the guardian of women and children. The name of the program was therefore aptly chosen, as the aim of the Artemis program is to send female astronauts to the moon and Mars for the first time.

How many Artemis missions are there?

A total of 3 missions are planned as part of NASA's Artemis program. These missions include Artemis 1 (scheduled to start in 2021), Artemis 2 (scheduled to start at the end of 2022) and Artemis 3 (scheduled to start in 2024). Follow-up missions, from Artemis 4 to Artemis 9, are also planned.

Artemis I

Artemis I, formerly known as Exploration Mission-1, is the first in the series of the Artemis program. It is an unmanned flight scheduled to start in 2021. The main purpose of the Artemis I mission is to test the SLS (Space Launch System) in conjunction with the Orion spacecraft.

Artemis II

Artemis II will be the first manned mission to the moon. Four astronauts will fly past the moon on the Orion spaceship, but will not land. The aim of this mission is to test the Orion's life support system.

Artemis III

The Artemis III mission is the cornerstone of the Artemis program. All other missions depend largely on the success of this mission. As part of the Artemis III mission, astronauts will land on the moon for the first time since 1972. The south pole of the moon was chosen as the landing region because it is considered strategically important for space missions, as water ice has been proven there, which is an important resource. An Artemis base camp will likely be established in Shackleton Crater.

Key components of the Artemis mission

All launches as part of the Artemis missions are to take place from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with a super heavy-lift carrier rocket (Space Launch System (SLS)).

Orion

The Orion spacecraft is a partially reusable, multi-purpose crew vehicle. Its main components are the crew module, the service module, the launch / abort system and a spacecraft adapter.

The crew module provides an artificial habitat for the crew. This module is also the only one in the entire space capsule that can return to Earth. In terms of its dimensions, it is larger than the earlier Apollo spacecraft.

The service module is equipped with solar panels for energy generation, tanks with oxygen, nitrogen and water. Radiators and heat exchangers are provided in the service module to maintain an optimal temperature. Rocket engines were also installed in this module to propel the spacecraft.

The spaceship adapter helps cover the service module to keep it safe. An instrument unit for guiding and controlling the booster is built into the adapter.

In the event of an emergency during take-off, a take-off-abort system is installed for the safe landing of the crew module.

Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway

The "Lunar Orbital Gateway" is a space station in lunar orbit, with which a permanent strategic presence of the people in cislunar space is to be ensured. Astronomers use the technical term "cislunar" to describe the common gravitational field of the moon and earth. The Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway, as the orbital station is called, is intended to act as a kind of gate that serves as a starting point for missions to the lunar surface and subsequently for flights to Mars. The gateway will also be a warehouse for oxygen, food and spare parts. This eliminates the need for frequent flights to Earth, which is intended to save time and resources.

Lunar Module

NASA has asked American companies to submit proposals for Artemis moon landers.

Artemis generation spacesuits

For the Artemis program, a special type of space suit, known as the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU), is being designed to protect astronauts from the harsh, inhospitable environment of space.

Since the Apollo missions ceased, the Artemis program has certainly been the most ambitious modern space program, and it will be another giant step for mankind. For the first time, humans will implement a sustainable presence on the moon and also prepare the journey to Mars.

"We're going to the moon to stay there"

NASA mission philosophy

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NASA's Artemis website: https://www.nasa.gov/specials/artemis/#

Author: Dr. Hubert Untersteiner (OeWF)