On Monday April 17th, NASA announced that the agency would likely build several bases around the moon instead of a single Artemis Base Camp at the lunar south pole. During a briefing at the 38th Space Symposium, NASA’s associate administrator for exploration systems development Jim Free said that if they missed a lunch window, they would have to wait a month to go back to that place.
According to Space.com, NASA would rather work with its international partners to establish a series of moon camps spread across the lunar surface to maximize science and exploration. The International Space Station partners have committed to extending the operations of this unique platform in low Earth orbit where, for more than 22 years, humans have lived and worked for the benefit of humanity, conducting cutting-edge science and research in microgravity.
We can maybe have two or three sites to go to that help our science diversity.Jim Free, NASA’s administrator for exploration systems development
The United States, Japan, Canada, and the participating countries of ESA (European Space Agency) have confirmed they will support continued space station operations through 2030 and Russia has confirmed it will support continued station operations through 2028. NASA will continue to work with its partner agencies to ensure an uninterrupted presence in low Earth orbit, as well as a safe and orderly transition from the space station to commercial platforms in the future.
Since its launch in 1998, the International Space Station has been visited by 266 individuals from 20 countries. The space station is a unique scientific platform where crew members conduct experiments across multiple disciplines of research, including Earth and space science, biology, human physiology, physical sciences and technology demonstrations that could not be done on Earth.
The crew living aboard the station are the hands of thousands of researchers on the ground conducting more than 3,300 experiments in microgravity. Now, in its third decade of operations, the station is in the decade of results when the platform can maximize its scientific return. Results are compounding, new benefits are materializing, and innovative research and technology demonstrations are building on previous work.
The space station is one of the most complex international collaborations ever attempted. It was designed to be interdependent, relies on contributions from across the partnership to function, and no partner currently has the capability to operate the space station without the other.
The additional smaller Artemis bases won’t be built in the near future, NASA announced. Artemis II will launch four astronauts around the moon no earlier than November 2024. On Monday April 3rd, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced the four astronauts who will venture around the Moon on Artemis II, the first crewed mission on NASA’s path to establishing a long-term presence at the Moon for science and exploration through Artemis.
The crew assignments are: Commander Reid Wiseman, Pilot Victor Glover, Mission Specialist 1 Christina Hammock Koch, and Mission Specialist 2 Jeremy Hansen. They will work as a team to execute an ambitious set of demonstrations during the flight test.
The approximately 10-day Artemis II flight test will launch on the agency’s powerful Space Launch System rocket, prove the Orion spacecraft’s life-support systems, and validate the capabilities and techniques needed for humans to live and work in deep space.
“The Artemis II crew represents thousands of people working tirelessly to bring us to the stars. This is their crew, this is our crew, this is humanity’s crew,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Hammock Koch, and CSA astronaut Jeremy Hansen, each has their own story, but, together, they represent our creed: E pluribus unum – out of many, one.”
The flight, set to build upon the successful uncrewed Artemis I mission completed in December, will set the stage for the first woman and first person of color on the Moon through the Artemis program, paving the way for future for long-term human exploration missions to the Moon, and eventually Mars. This is the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach. The Artemis III mission, which will be the first crewed Artemis moon landing, is currently scheduled for 2025, as reported by Space.com.