NASA is going back to the Moon and is planning to stay. As we speak, the first of eight scheduled missions is ready to launch sometime in August of this year. According to the space agency, Artemis I has three upcoming launch windows that could propel the Orion spacecraft into lunar orbit and back to Earth before 2022 is out.
Artemis, daughter of Zeus and twin sister of Apollo, is finally getting her rightful place at NASA's hall of fame as the first female deity whose name will be used in an ambitious project to make a permanent station out of the Moon and a subsequent jumping point to other solar system planets. If everything goes according to plan, the inclusive program will put the first woman in our natural satellite by 2025.
The maiden flight of the Artemis program will be unmanned and will serve to test the myriad of instruments and systems developed for such an enterprise. During the first, three-week trip to the Moon, NASA will be evaluating the performance of the solar panels, propellant reservoirs, guidance systems, and the heat shield of the Orion spacecraft. Onboard test dummies will take the place of actual astronauts and will serve as inanimate collectors of radiation measurements and other important creature comfort and safety data.
If everything performs nominally during this first mission, NASA will proceed with Artemis II; a crewed mission that will see four astronauts orbit the Moon and returned safely to Earth by May 2024. Boots on the lunar surface will have to wait until Artemis III in 2025. By that time, NASA's Space Launch System should have proven itself capable of making the trip to the Moon with no major issues. Artemis IV to VIII will oversee the logistics of establishing a permanent lunar base and making ready a solid infrastructure for future, undisclosed moon activities. This thread will serve to keep you informed of the Artemis program and will be updated accordingly.