NASA unveils spacecraft to carry humans to the Moon in Artemis V

Artemis V

The United States is preparing its return to the Moon with the Artemis program. It aims to bring the next man and the first woman to walk on the surface of the satellite. It also hopes to take the first steps in sustainable, permanent settlements that will propel the next era of space exploration. NASA announced on May 19 the second spacecraft to descend to the Moon on the Artemis V mission, scheduled for no earlier than 2029.

bluemoon nasa

Human landing system

Unlike the past Apollo program, Artemis seeks to use a much more complex and complete infrastructure. Mixing the participation of several national and international actors. Instead of requiring a single launch, it is expected to take advantage of a variety of rockets at different times. For example, missions to deploy equipment, vehicles or the like, then the launch of the lunar lander to dock with Gateway, an orbital lunar station. Finally, the launch of the crew and the descent to the surface.

While Artemis II will only be a flyby of the Moon, Artemis III and probably Artemis IV will be the first to descend to the surface for the first time in 50 years.. SpaceX's Starship will be used for this purpose.The lunar launcher, in a modified and improved version to serve its purpose of carrying a large amount of cargo and the potential to be reusable in the lunar environment.

However, NASA would like to have a second lunar lander possibility, as an alternative for possible delays and a wider variety of mission profiles to extend mankind's reach to the lunar south pole.

spacex starship hls artemis iii 2 crew 0 0 0 scaled
Digital recreation of SpaceX's Human Landing System.

Blue Moon Lander

Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' company, was the winner of the second competition for the second lunar landing module.. With a total value of $6.9 billion, split equally between NASA and Blue Origin, two different designs will be built. One will be crew-focused and will land on Artemis V. Both will employ liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, requiring the development of new technologies for storing liquid oxygen for missions of up to 30 days.

Meanwhile, the other is intended to carry cargo to and from the lunar surface. This in turn is divided into two configurations. The former would be reusable and could carry up to 20 tons, or 30 tons, but losing the ability to return to orbit. The latter offers great potential for carrying the first components of possible future permanent bases.

A year before the mission, an automatic, unmanned lunar module landing test will be conducted.. This is in order to demonstrate the capabilities of the vehicle to meet the requirements and ensure the success of the mission and the lives of the astronauts.

Astronauts would take off aboard the Orion spacecraft on the Space Launch System rocket to dock with Gateway.. Days earlier, the lunar lander lifts off aboard Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket to an NRHO orbit to also dock with the lunar station. Subsequently, two of the four crew members would board the module and head for the surface.

 Building the future

Returning to the Moon is not a waste of money. All the efforts being made are investments to many areas of science and technology that in the near or distant future will offer solutions and applications for our daily lives. We are on the threshold of a new era of space exploration and an enormous potential to demonstrate what mankind is capable of.

Francisco Andrés Forero Daza