A multi-billion contract for the construction of spacecraft to bring astronauts back to the moon has now been signed with the aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin, US Space Agency Nasa announces. But there is competition.
This settlement means that initially three Orion capsules will be built, for the space launches called Artemis 3, 4 and 5. By 2024, these will bring up to four astronauts at a time, including the first woman, to the moon.
The previously planned Artemis 1 and 2 will in one case become unmanned, and as for the second, the tour should go past the moon, but not go down for landing.
Want to Mars
The flights are scheduled to start with Artemis 1 next year. However, all timings must be taken with a pinch of salt, as the work on the SLS carrier rocket system is delayed.
According to NASA chief Jim Bridenstine, the project is to establish a “viable presence” on our closest celestial body, although the US now seems to see the moon more as an intermediate target for moving on to Mars.
But already Artemis 2 is becoming epoch, in that it means that people travel beyond the orbit for the first time since the Apollo program ended in the early 1970s.
However, the space race includes competition, both from other world powers such as China or India and within the United States. Multi-billionaires like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Tesla’s Elon Musk have their own space companies, Blue Origin and Space X, respectively.
And Musk, in particular, is impatient. Much of Space X’s operations are under contract with Nasa, but he may also consider running his own flights to the moon.
“If it would take longer to persuade Nasa and the authorities that we can do it compared to just doing it, then maybe we just do it,” he told Time magazine in July.
– It might be easier to just land (Space X craft) Starship on the moon rather than to convince NASA that it is possible.