Artemis and the Future of Space Exploration

Rasesh Joshi, Reporter

NASA’s highly promising Artemis Program of space flight missions has captivated the world with its trailblazing goals and innovative designs. The Artemis program’s purpose is to resume Moon exploration and colonization processes from the Apollo 17 Mission of 1972. Artemis 1, the first of these missions, is a proving ground for many new technologies.
The most important of these for the Artemis 1 is a new heavy launch vehicle, the Space Launch System (SLS). SLS is the long-awaited successor to the Space Transportation System (STS) of the ’60s and ’70s. It provides greater fuel efficiency, payload capacity, range, and compatibility compared to that STS. SLS is expected to be used as the launch platform for all unmanned and manned Artemis missions, and exemplifies the future of reusability in rocket boosters. This expansivity will also allow for greater conservation of resources and a more streamlined method of spacecraft launches.
Another important aspect of the Artemis 1 Launch being tested is its main payload, the Orion Spacecraft. This module will hold various scientific instruments and eventually astronauts in future manned missions. This space capsule, similar to SLS, can also be reused for multiple missions and can be easily modulated to fit any mission duties.
The flight path for the Artemis 1 mission will require the spacecraft to complete multiple different maneuvers during its spaceflight. After achieving orbit around the Earth, Artemis 1 will complete a Trans Lunar Injection (TLI) Burn propelling it towards the moon. Here, engineers will observe and correct the trajectory of the aircraft and release 10 CubeSat satellites toward the Moon. After this phase, the remainder of Artemis 1 will achieve a distance retrograde orbit around the moon where engineers will record its flight performance. Finally, Artemis 1 will return to Earth using Return-Powered Flyby (RPF) and Return Trajectory Correction (RTC) burns. Artemis 1’s trip will be conducted over a period of 4-6 weeks and will provide much information for the astronauts of Artemis 2, the first manned mission in the Artemis program.
A common theme found in this program, relatively new to spaceflight, is the cooperation between governments and private companies to create and oversee almost all elements of the program. From CubeSat satellites to Launch Abort Systems, commercialization has helped reduce the total cost of spaceship production and has allowed for better structures and modules to be manufactured.
Although the world saw a period of time when innovations in space travel decelerated, we are finally on track again to continue exploring the cosmos and uncovering the secrets of our universe. While space travel might seem pointless to some people, it is the next frontier for the human race and can provide solutions to many different problems that we have on our planet Earth.