Updated at 3:34 PM PDT – Sunday, Nov 29, 2020
NASA has begun preparing the launch system for the “Artemis” moon mission next year.
On Tuesday, NASA announced the start of assembly of the rocket, which will be used to transport the first woman to the moon. The launch is scheduled for 2021.
The first booster engine has been completed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to prepare for the first unmanned flight of the “Artemis” program.
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The flight will be a test of technology set to be separate from the manned Artemis missile.
“So the Artemis program is our moon exploration program,” said astronaut Serena Union Chancellor. “We will reach the south pole of the moon by 2024, descending the first woman and the next man.”
It is the first of 10 experimental engines to be assembled as part of the new Space Launch System, which NASA hopes could be used in future trips to Mars and other deep space missions.
In 2021, officials are expected to make an unmanned test flight around the moon before the second mission in 2023. All this in preparation for the final mission, “Artemis 3,” which will make the moon landing in 2024.
Since 1969, the United States has made six manned flights to the moon. The last of them happened in 1972.
In 2019, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency would use the next flight to gauge its ability to travel sustainably and survive on the moon.
“We’re going to take the lead, we’re going to take a coalition of nations, let’s go to the moon, this time we’ll stay,” Bridenstine said. “This is a big difference between what we do today and what we did in 1969 to 1972.”