NASA confirms its crewed Artemis II moon mission will launch in late 2024

The Artemis I mission broke the record for the furthest flight from Earth for a human-rated spacecraft.
Chris Young
An artist's impression of the Orion capsule.
An artist's impression of the Orion capsule.

NASA / Liam Yanulis 

NASA is preparing to send the first crewed mission to the moon since Apollo 17 in 1972.

The US space agency's Artemis I mission was a success, allowing the world's most powerful operational rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), and the human-rated Orion capsule to be entirely stress tested while breaking records in the process.

Now, NASA is setting its sights on Artemis II, which will carry out a similar journey around the moon and back, but this time with humans aboard Orion. In an update on Tuesday, the space agency said it aims to launch the crewed mission in November next year.

Artemis II mission set to go ahead in late 2024

NASA officials provided an update on the Artemis program, which aims to establish a permanent colony on the moon ultimately. Firstly though, it will send humans around the moon and back with Artemis II, and then back to the moon's surface with Artemis III — thanks in part to a SpaceX Starship lunar lander — at some point around 2026.

The Artemis I mission ended in December after the uncrewed Orion capsule safely splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after a roughly 25-day around the moon and back. During that trip, the Orion spacecraft broke the record for the furthest flight from Earth for a human-rated spacecraft, outperforming the emergency maneuver performed by the Apollo 13 crew.

The Artemis II mission will take place in late November 2024, and it will carry a four-person crew on a flyby around the moon. It won't fly quite as far as Orion did during Artemis I to keep the astronauts safe, but it will be the first crewed mission in a program that's all about human exploration.

NASA has long stated that its Artemis and lunar Gateway programs are part of its broader mission for human spaceflight. Essentially, the space agency aims to establish a permanent presence on the moon, which will serve as a stepping stone for human exploration of Mars and the solar system.

NASA will soon announce the Artemis II crew

However, the first step for NASA is getting humans back to the moon.

"We're looking forward to that crew flying on Artemis II," NASA associate administrator Jim Free told reporters, as per a France 24 report. "Right now there's nothing holding us up based on what we learned on Artemis 1."

NASA has also stated that it will reveal the members of the Artemis II crew later this year. The only thing we know so far is that one will be a Canadian.

The space agency has emphasized that it will send the first woman and first person of color to the moon with its Artemis III mission. Likely, Artemis II's crew will also feature women, as the Artemis I Orion capsule contained a dummy that was designed to analyze the effects of radiation on the female anatomy.

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