NASA aims to launch manned missions to the Moon again. Although one of the main goals here may seem to establish a permanent settlement on the lunar surface, the real goal is actually much bigger.

Here we are sharing the most special moments of Moon Landing back in 69' and dreaming of a settlement on the lunar surface which can be observed with naked eye from earth within the third issue of our Astro Newsletter.

"Last 5%"  the words of Buzz Aldrin, pilot of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Module, echoed in the mission control center on July 20, 1969, at 8:16 PM in Houston.

Two astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, were only 30 meters above the surface of the Moon. But they only had 5% of their fuel left. Buzz Aldrin checked the gauges once again and he said "last 22 meters" to Neil.

When the clocks showed 8:17 p.m., the Lunar Lander Eagle seemed to be reborn in a dust cloud on the Moon's surface with two astronauts inside. This new achievement of mankind echoed throughout the universe with the words of mission commander Neil Armstrong who remained silent till then, “Houston, Tranquility base here, Eagle has landed!".

About 2 hours later, at 10:56 p.m. (EDT), the first human trace to be left on the lunar surface was made by Neil Armstrong as follows;

Now, exactly 53 years later, another rocket is making its final preparations for the same target on the ramp where the Saturn V rocket, which took mankind to the Moon for the first time, was launched. The rocket, called the Space Launch System (SLS), aims to take humanity back to the Moon. But this time, it is planned to establish a permanent settlement there rather than just visiting.

NASA's unmanned Artemis 1 mission has been successfully completed in the past months. The Orion spacecraft used in the mission safely landed in the Pacific Ocean after a historic mission around the Moon.

Artemis I projected flightpath | Source: NASA

Of course, the Orion capsule's return to Earth was not easy. Because while the capsule was coming towards the Earth, it reached a speed of 39,422 km / h (24,500 mph) per hour, while at the same time the heat shield of the vehicle reached a temperature of 2760 °C (5000 F). Orion traveled a total of 1.4 million miles (2,253,082 km) in space over 25.5 days.

NASA also experimented with a new planetary penetration testing technique on Orion's landing. This technique makes it easier for the spacecraft to land at the designated location. When Orion enters the upper atmosphere of the Earth, it makes a short jump for maneuver, thus reaching the desired target or range. NASA likens this technique to bouncing a stone over water in a river.

Now that Orion is back on the ground, NASA will begin collecting data from sensor-equipped dummies on board to prepare for future missions involving humans. NASA's second Artemis mission, scheduled for 2024, will send a group of astronauts around the Moon.

Artemis II projected flightpath | Source: NASA

On Monday, April 3, 2023, NASA announced the names of the astronauts who will take part in the Artemis 2 mission. Flight specialists on duty; It will be Christina Hammock Kock and Jeremy Hansen. Victor Glover will take the pilot seat, while Reid Wiseman will take command of the mission.

Artemis 2 crew: (left to right) Christina Koch, Victor Glover, Reid Wiseman (seated), and Jeremy Hansen.

The crew of four astronauts will take off for an approximately 10-day mission from Launch Complex 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, shining beyond Earth's gravity scope above NASA's mega Moon rocket. For about two days, they'll check Orion's systems and conduct a targeting test relatively close to Earth before starting the move towards the Moon.

Artemis 2 astronauts in the Orion simulator at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston

Orion's European Space Agency-built service module will provide the spacecraft with the massive thrust needed to evade Earth orbit and set its course to the Moon. This extralunar injection burn will send the astronauts on a nearly four-day outbound journey and take them to the far side of the Moon, where they will eventually form a figure-eight that extends more than 230,000 miles from Earth. The crew will fly about 6,400 miles beyond the Moon at their maximum distance. During the approximately four-day return journey, the astronauts will continue to evaluate the spacecraft's systems.

The crew will be met by a rescue team of NASA and Department of Defense personnel, who will withstand and retrieve high-speed, high-temperature reentry through Earth's atmosphere before landing in the Pacific Ocean off San Diego.

Proposed mission plan for the Artemis III mission | Source: NASA

NASA then plans to land humans on the Moon surface again with the Artemis III Mission. However, this mission is expected to be completed in 2025 or 2026 at the earliest.

Although one of the main goals here may seem to be to establish a permanent settlement on the lunar surface, the goal is actually much larger.

A rocket launched from Earth needs to consume tons of fuel to get rid of the Earth's gravitational force and reach orbit. According to Newton's third law of motion, the thrust emanating from a rocket engine is called "effect" and the resulting rise of the rocket is called "reaction". But since Earth's gravitational force is so great, the effect must be much, much larger than the rocket weight for the reaction to occur.

Manned missions to Mars in the future will also consume a lot of fuel due to this gravitational force. If an object is thrown into space from a celestial body with 6 times less gravitational force, it will be possible to travel much farther using much less fuel. That's why plans are being made to establish a base on the lunar surface and reach Mars or other celestial bodies from there.

In addition, if the missions are accomplished, NASA is preparing to blaze a trail by sending the first woman to Moon. Since all 12 astronauts who walked on the lunar surface between 1969 and 1972 were men, this time, NASA is working on sending the first female astronaut to walk on the Moon with the Artemis program.

What do you think how the Moon, shining like a golden disk in the sky especially during the full moon, will look like after all these missions?

Will we one day be able to sit and watch the launches from the lunar surface with our telescopes while today it is necessary to go to the rocket launch site to watch the launches into space?

We are holding our breath for it!

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