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Nasa Details Program Artemis, Apollo & # 39; s Little Sister

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Washington (AFP)

Eight rocket launches and a mini-post in orbit around the moon in 2024: the NASA boss presented the calendar of the "Artemis" program on Thursday, which will bring astronauts to the surface of the moon for the first time since 1972.

The manager of the US space agency has confirmed that Artemis 1 would be an unmanned mission around the moon, scheduled for 2020. Then comes Artemis 2, mission around the moon with astronauts on board, "in about 2022".

Finally, Artemis takes 3 astronauts to the moon, the first woman to walk the lunar land in 2024 – it would be the equivalent of the Apollo 11 mission, which brought Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon in July 1969.

These three Artemis missions are launched by the largest rocket of all time, the Space Launch System (SLS), which is currently being built, but whose development is delayed much, to the point that the first scheduled flight of 2020 must be postponed , according to many experts. At the top the inhabited capsule will be Orion.

To these missions, "100% NASA" will be added five deliveries of the elements of the "Gateway", the mini-station in orbits that astronauts will wait and serve as a stage.

These five launches will be carried out between 2022 and 2024 by private space companies, which will compensate NASA.

The station will initially be small: a propulsion / energy element and a small residential unit. In 2024 the astronauts arriving from the earth will moor there.

They then descend on the moon aboard a vehicle called LG, which was delivered to the station in advance. Part of the lander will remain on the moon and another will allow them to ascend again to reach the station, where astronauts can return to the Orion ship and return to Earth.

Jim Bridenstine announced on Thursday that NASA has chosen the Maxar company to build the first module of the station, which will supply energy thanks to large solar panels.

NASA will have to choose who will build the Stringer in the coming months. All major aerospace groups, such as Boeing or Lockheed Martin, as well as newcomers such as Blue Origin, are at stake.

"We will not own the equipment, we will buy a service," said Jim Bridenstine of the string. "The goal is to go fast".

"We are not building a new international space station," he warned. "Our ultimate goal is to go to Mars, not to be stuck on the moon."

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