NASA announced the astronauts who will be part of the Artemis program that aims to launch the first woman and the next man to the lunar surface in 2024. This week, the agency shared photographs of the crew who will make the historic voyage. Nine women and nine men were selected to be part of the next phase of space exploration. The eighteen NASA Astronauts come from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. –“It's official. One of these astronauts will go down in history as the first woman on the Moon,” the agency wrote via Twitter, pictured below.
Since 2011 NASA and Boeing have been developing a massive Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle to propel astronauts to the lunar surface. SLS is scheduled to conduct its first uncrewed test launch in 2021. This year the agency formed additional partnerships with SpaceX, Dynetics, and Blue Origin, each are working to develop a lunar lander for NASA. “When our Artemis astronauts journey to the Moon, they'll touch down in NASA's Human Landing System. We're working with commercial partners across the country to design and build our landers,” the agency shared on Friday. “[…] America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, including the incredible moment when we will see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface. This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis program,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.
When our #Artemis astronauts journey to the Moon, they'll touch down in @NASA's Human Landing System.— NASA’s Artemis Program (@NASAArtemis) December 12, 2020
We're working with commercial partners across the country to design and build our landers: https://t.co/4pgsBEt9H6 pic.twitter.com/I8UnVxDH4s
NASA Artemis Astronauts could land on the lunar surface aboard SpaceX’s Starship one day. The company is developing a lunar-optimized version of the Starship spacecraft that is actively under development at the SpaceX South Texas Launch Facility located in Boca Chica Beach, TX. Earlier this week, the company conducted the first high-altitude test launch of a stainless-steel Starship prototype. The incredible test flight demonstrated SpaceX teams' engineering talent.
SpaceX performs incredible Starship SN8 test flight in South Texas!https://t.co/AAjSqpWp0d— Tesmanian.com (@Tesmanian_com) December 10, 2020
SpaceX is already building the first NASA Starship Lunar Lander prototype at the South Texas assembly facility. Boca Chica residents recently photographed the vehicle, pictured below. The Starship Lunar Lander for NASA will feature some notable changes from the Mars Starship vehicle’s design. A notable change is that the lunar lander will not feature aerodynamic flaps.– "A lunar optimized Starship can fly many times between the surface of the Moon and lunar orbit without flaps or heat shielding required for Earth return," SpaceX stated. "With large habitable and storage volume, Starship is capable of delivering significant amounts of cargo for research and to support robust operations on the lunar surface to enable a sustainable Moon base." Under NASA’s Artemis Program the United States plans to build a permanent base on the moon. The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk says Starship can be used as an astronaut base habitat, “No need to bring early ships back. They can serve as part of Moon Base Alpha,” he said in June.
NASA Artemis Moon lander anyone?🚀🌙 pic.twitter.com/ORhSMLq12v— Austin Barnard🚀 (@austinbarnard45) October 22, 2020
“The SpaceX human lander design is a single-stage solution with Starship, their fully reusable launch and landing system designed for travel to the Moon, Mars and beyond,” Bridenstine said, “The proposal included an in-space propellant transfer demonstration and uncrewed test landing.”
“NASA’s commercial partners will refine their lander concepts through the contract base period ending in February 2021. During that time, the agency will evaluate which of the contractors will perform initial demonstration missions,” the agency said in a press release.
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.