NASA Releases Science Plan For First Artemis Human Landing Mission

NASA Invites Media to Discuss Science Priorities for Artemis III Moon Landing

"NASA is hosting a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EST Monday, Dec. 7, to discuss the release of a report defining the agency's science priorities for the Artemis III mission, which will launch the first woman and next man to the Moon in 2024. The teleconference will stream live on NASA's website."

NASA Artemis III Science Definition Team report

"The Artemis III mission will be the first human mission to the surface of the Moon in the 21st Century, and will build on the legacy of Apollo to usher in the modern era of human exploration and development in deep space. The lunar surface is an ideal location to answer fundamental planetary science questions. In the 50 years since humans last visited the Moon, new advances arising from robotic lunar missions, reanalysis of older data, modeling, and sample analysis have produced dramatic results and new questions about planetary volcanism, volatiles, impact processes, tectonics, and the lunar environment. Driven by new questions, we set out a robust science plan for the Artemis III crew return to the lunar surface."

Keith's note: According to this document NASA still does not know how it is going to land humans on the Moon and return them to Earth. At this point prior to Apollo landings there were posters on the wall of every school room in America laying out the Apollo mission profile. NASA has 4 calendar years to figure this out - they need to design, test, and fly the hardware - and it all needs to work. There is no room for error in the current schedule. Four years out and crews have yet to be selected. Crew training facilities do not yet exist since much of the mission hardware is still TBD. We are about to return to a world we left half a century ago and we seem to be in a hurry to do so.

"Artemis III will be the first human mission to the Moon in the 21st Century. Astronauts aboard Orion for Artemis III will rendezvous with a Human Landing System (HLS) vehicle in lunar orbit to make their descent to the lunar South Pole. NASA has awarded three companies, Blue Origin, Dynetics, and SpaceX, to begin refining their HLS designs. Artemis III astronauts will spend up to 6.5 days on the surface, living inside the HLS crew cabin that they will then use to launch back to lunar orbit to rendezvous with Orion. The Artemis III crew may rendezvous with the lander at the Gateway or may board the lander directly from Orion. While the SLS will launch crew aboard Orion, and potentially carry co- manifested payloads to lunar orbit, the increasingly capable commercial launch market will be the workhorse of lunar development. Commercial rockets are expected to carry CLPS landers and many other surface and orbital assets, including Gateway modules after Artemis III."

My question at the media telecon: "The science part of the report looks great. I am confused about the human part. At this point prior to the Apollo landings - as early as 1965 - Apollo program astronauts were in the field training for lunar geology and flying simulators based on an established mission architecture. At the same point prior to the first landing the Artemis program only has part of this in place. When will you pick crews and start training in simulators and in the field - and how will you do that given that the mission architecture is still several years away from being defined? Can you really pull this off so as to be ready to go no later than 4 years from TODAY? It seems a bit compressed."

Ken Bowersox replied "We expect to see a lot of progress in the next year when down select to our commercial partners. As for talking training I expect you will see that in the next year or so." When I asked when field training is going to start Bowersox said that some of this already happens in the field and in places like Desert RATS "flight specific training will start 1.5 to 3 years prior to the mission." Jacob Bleacher added that Apollo veterans have provided some input into Artemis training.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on December 7, 2020 1:33 PM.

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