The Trump administration wants to get humans back to the Moon — fast. In April of 2019, Vice President Mike Pence challenged NASA with putting people on the lunar surface by 2024, a deadline just five years away. NASA accepted and has since named this ambitious initiative Artemis — a nod to the Greek goddess and twin sister of Apollo, whose name was given to NASA’s first program to send humans to the Moon.
This time around, NASA wants things to be different. The goal of Artemis is to create a sustainable presence near the Moon, instead of just sending humans to plant flags and make footprints. The agency also aims to send the first woman to the Moon through the Artemis program.
The odds are stacked against NASA’s lofty goals. The agency has a whole lot of new hardware to build over the next five years, and it still doesn’t have a firm budget from Congress. If the agency doesn’t get that funding, the 2024 deadline could easily slip away. But even if the money does come through, NASA doesn’t have a great reputation for meeting deadlines, either. There’s no room for error, and it’s unclear if NASA has the ability to navigate the political and technical risks to pull this off.
Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming launch
The new launch date will be Saturday instead of Friday
A new first for the next lunar landing
The agency claims there is enough redundancy in the system
A result of NASA and CSA agreeing to collaborate on building the Lunar Gateway
Though no flight assignments have been made yet
Engineers are figuring out how to replace a failed power unit in Orion
NASA is going to get some funding for landers, just not the full amount it asked for
Jim Bridenstine says the NASA administrator should be close with the president
But there are still a lot of unknowns
NASA’s biggest partner, Russia, is not on the list
Dmitry Rogozin thinks the current plan is too ‘US centric’
Can you prove you’ve bagged lunar dirt? NASA will pay you
Coming up nearly $3 billion short
Getting down to business on the lunar surface
Guidelines on how to work together on the lunar surface
The clock is ticking to 2024
Will Congress agree to the increase?
Jim Bridenstine tells us what to expect for 2020
The agency is providing expertise at zero cost
Collins Aerospace has a space outfit you can use
“What about the concept of Mars direct?”
The agency needs a finished rocket, a tiny space station, and a brand new lander
Why the space agency struggles to achieve its human spaceflight goals
Jim Bridenstine talks about what to expect in the months ahead