Washington DC (UPI) Aug 3, 2021 Sounding like an excited new parent, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson...
Sounding like an excited new parent, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson declared during a press briefing Wednesday that the agency's Artemis mission is ready to take its first physical steps to return to the moon and sometime later head to Mars.
Laying out an effort that will include international and commercial partners, Nelson said Artemis I will take off for months-long orbiting around the moon to test its hardware and systems in the final preparation for a manned flight.
Nelson was clear that returning to the moon is just a stepping stone to a future trip to Mars, where humans will work and prepare for NASA's bigger human exploration prize down the road. "We're going to Mars and we're going back to the moon, in order to work, to live and to survive," Nelson said.
He said Artemis I and II will prepare NASA "Not a three-day journey, but millions and millions of miles away on a months and months, if not years, journey. And we're going together. We're going with our commercial partners and we're going with our international partners."
The earliest launch date for the unmanned Artemis I mission will be Aug. 29 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
During the mission, an unmanned Orion capsule, like one that ultimately would take astronauts to the moon and back, will circle the moon in an oblong orbit coming as close as 62 miles and as far as 30,000 miles in a full test of all of its capabilities before returning to Earth and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.
Mike Sarafin, the Artemis I mission manager, said everything will be scrutinized from the rocket's trip to the launching pad to the separation of stages to splashdown.
The briefing Wednesday was the first of two NASA in holding in regards to the Artemis I lunar mission.
One goal of the Artemis missions is to land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon, administrator Nelson has said.
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