Science & Technology

NASA chief: We’re going back to the Moon to stay

Miami, Aug 8 (EFE).- NASA Administrator Bill Nelson expressed enthusiasm Tuesday about the Artemis program, saying the space agency is returning to the moon to stay.

“We’re going back to learn to live in a deep space environment for long periods of time, so we can go to Mars and return safely,” he said at a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center in northeastern Florida alongside other NASA officials and the Artemis II mission’s four-member crew.

Those astronauts made their first inspection Tuesday of the Orion spacecraft that will carry them into space for a lunar flyby – a 10-day mission currently expected to take place in November 2024.

Nelson noted that NASA plans to eventually land Orion on the Moon’s south pole (the Artemis III crewed landing mission) and that other nations, including Russia, India and China, also plan to land spacecrafts on the challenging terrain of that same little-explored part of the lunar surface.

He added that there is now renewed interest in the Moon because the south pole’s permanently shadowed areas likely contain abundant quantities of frozen water, which could be mined and transformed into rocket fuel.


Despite the competition posed by different countries, the NASA administrator said the space race is likely to ultimately pit the US against China.

He also warned that the stakes are high.

“I don’t want China to get to the south pole first, with humans, and then say, ‘This is ours, stay out,’ like they’ve done with the Spratly Islands,” Nelson said.

He added that NASA wants to ensure that water on the moon is “available to all, not just the one claiming it.”


The commander of the crew for the Artemis II mission, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, said the measure of success for the fly-by is “seeing our colleagues on the lunar surface … and then seeing people that are following in our footsteps, walking on Mars and coming back to planet Earth.”

He humbly predicted that Artemis II will be “the tiniest footnote in the Artemis campaign.”

The other three astronauts on NASA’s first crewed moon mission since Apollo 17 in 1972 are pilot Victor Glover and mission specialists Christina Hammock Koch and Jeremy Hansen.

The Artemis II mission will lift off from the Kennedy Space Center, with the Space Launch System mega-rocket launching the crew into space aboard the Orion spacecraft. EFE


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