Astronauts are expected to live and work on the moon by 2030, according to a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) official.
Howard Hu, head of NASA’s Orion lunar spacecraft program, said humans could be “sustainably” active on the moon by 2030, with habitats to live in and rovers to support their work.
Howard Hu, who was named head of NASA’s deep space exploration spacecraft in February, spoke Sunday as the 98-meter Artemis rocket headed for the moon on its first unmanned mission. The giant rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Wednesday carrying the Orion spacecraft after a series of delays caused by technical failures and hurricanes.
The spacecraft carries three mannequins that will record the stresses and strains of the Artemis 1 mission. The rocket is now about 134,000 kilometers from the moon.
This is our first step toward long-term deep space exploration, not only for the United States, but for the world,” said Howard Hu. I think it’s a historic day for NASA, but it’s also a historic day for all those who love human space flight and deep space exploration.”
The Orion spacecraft will fly within 60 miles (about 96.56 kilometers) of the moon and continue for 40,000 miles before flying back to Earth with the goal of landing in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 11. During the 25-day mission, the spacecraft will fly 1.3 million miles, the farthest distance ever flown by a spacecraft built for humans.
Upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, the Orion spacecraft will travel at about 25,000 mph (about 40,233.6 km/h) and its heat shield temperature will rise to about 2,800 degrees Celsius, with an expected splashdown on the coast of San Diego.
The Artemis 1 mission will pave the way for subsequent Artemis 2 and 3 flights, and NASA plans to send the first woman and the first person of color to the lunar surface with the Artemis mission, paving the way for a long-term presence on the Moon and a path to Mars. NASA expects to launch the Artemis 2 manned lunar orbiting mission as early as 2024, culminating in the Artemis 3 mission to the Moon.