Following the successful launch of the Artemis rocket, a leading NASA official has said that humans could be living on the Moon before the end of the decade. According to a report in The Guardian, Howard Hu, the head of the US agency’s Orion lunar spacecraft programme, said humans could be active on the Moon for “durations” before 2030, with habitats to live in and rovers to support their work.
“Certainly, in this decade, we are going to have people living for durations, depending on how long we will be on the surface. They will have habitats, they will have rovers on the ground. We are going to be sending people down to the surface, and they are going to be living on that surface and doing science,” he told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme.
The Orion spacecraft successfully took off last Wednesday from Cape Canaveral in Florida after technical issues and hurricanes caused several delays. Howard Hu said that the launch of the Artemis rocket, which carries Orion, was a “historic day for human space flight”. He explained that if the mission proves successful, it will pave the way for subsequent Artemis 2 and 3 flights, both of which will feature crewed missions to the moon.
The Artemis program will also be responsible for the construction and development of the Lunar Gateway, a space station on the moon for astronauts to live on in the future. The Orion capsule is due back on Earth on December 11.
“It’s the first step we’re taking to long-term deep space exploration, for not just the United States but for the world. I think this is a historic day for NASA, but it’s also a historic day for all the people who love human space flight and deep space exploration. I mean, we are going back to the Moon, we’re working towards a sustainable programme and this is the vehicle that will carry the people that will land us back on the Moon again,” the official further remarked.
NASA has also billed the Moon missions as a starting point toward more ambitious targets, like getting humans to Mars. A statement from NASA explains: “NASA is going to the Moon with commercial and international partners to explore faster and explore more together. This work will bring new knowledge and opportunities and inspire the next generation. In going to the Moon, NASA is laying the foundation that will eventually enable human exploration of Mars. The Moon will provide a proving ground to test technologies and resources that will take humans to Mars and beyond, including building a sustainable, reusable architecture.”
Humans have not been on the Moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
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