On Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary, NASA announces that they will be sending the first woman to the moon in their upcoming come back to space in 2024. And like every historic event, it needs a name which NASA coined as Artemis.
Coincidentally, Apollo has a twin named Artemis and, more appropriately, she’s known as the Goddess of the Moon, among others according to Greek Mythology. So sending a female astronaut in this mission to the moon is a no-brainer at best.
“It turns out that Apollo had a twin sister, Artemis. She happens to be the goddess of the Moon. Our astronaut office is very diverse and highly qualified. I think it is very beautiful that 50 years after Apollo, the Artemis program will carry the next man — and the first woman — to the Moon,” said Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator.
Artemis, the feminine name, is a refreshing change in space exploration since all the names related to which are filled by men throughout history. Although the first moon landing was highly contributed by women, it’s high time that they get the attention and recognition of making NASA’s return all about the woman instead of the man.
Bridenstine notes that NASA’s Artemis mission is for the future generations and said that “I have an 11-year-old daughter, and I want her to be able to see herself in the same way that our current very diverse astronaut corps sees itself.”
“If we look at the history of Moon landings, it was tested pilots from the 1960s and 1970s, fighter pilots, and there were no opportunities for women back then. This program is going to enable a new generation of young girls like my daughter to see themselves in a way that maybe they wouldn’t otherwise see themselves,” he said at a Q&A after the announcement.
Moreover, according to The Verge, when asked about who gets to first step on the moon and if it gets to be a women, Bridenstine says that “the direction that we have right now is that the next man and the first woman will be Americans and that we will land on the south pole of the Moon in 2024. Beyond that we’ve not made any specific decisions, but I will tell you it’s something that we’re all interested in, and I think there’s a lot of young ladies all across the country, and in fact all around the world, that are wondering who that first woman is going to be.”
The announcement follows after the Artemis mission finally confirmed that the project has official funding from the government at $1.6 billion. However, both the administration and critics know that it would not be enough. That’s where partner commercial companies come in and pitch in a few favors to get that woman on the moon.
On the other hand, according to Bridenstine, there will be an estimate of about 11 launches for the entirety of the mission but most likely, women, more particularly, people won’t be able to lift off to space until the 10th when Artemis 2 will be able to fly a crewed launch that is set to orbit the moon.
Furthermore, Artemis 3 that is set to take the crew on the actual moon will first need the orbiting platform, Gateway developed and a lander to give astronauts the power and thrust to descend and ascend the moon.
The favors commercial companies will be giving to NASA will be in terms of deployment of materials to space and more importantly, developing the design and hardware for the Gateway and the lander.
As of the moment, there are eleven aerospace companies that will share more than $45 million in funds from NASA to design and test prototypes for the Artemis Moon missions. These companies include established names like Space X, Blue Origin, and Boeing among others.
“We’re keen to collect early industry feedback about our human landing system requirements, and the undefinitized contract action will help us do that,” Greg Chavers in a NASA press release. “This new approach doesn’t prescribe a specific design or number of elements for the human landing system. NASA needs the system to get our astronauts on the surface and return them home safely, and we’re leaving a lot of the specifics to our commercial partners.”
Here’s the full list of companies NASA granted to take on the responsibility:
- Aerojet Rocketdyne – Canoga Park, California
- One transfer vehicle study
- Blue Origin – Kent, Washington
- One descent element study, one transfer vehicle study, and one transfer vehicle prototype
- Boeing – Houston
- One descent element study, two descent element prototypes, one transfer vehicle study, one transfer vehicle prototype, one refueling element study, and one refueling element prototype
- Dynetics – Huntsville, Alabama
- One descent element study and five descent element prototypes
- Lockheed Martin – Littleton, Colorado
- One descent element study, four descent element prototypes, one transfer vehicle study, and one refueling element study
- Masten Space Systems – Mojave, California
- One descent element prototype
- Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems – Dulles, Virginia
- One descent element study, four descent element prototypes, one refueling element study, and one refueling element prototype
- OrbitBeyond – Edison, New Jersey
- Two refueling element prototypes
- Sierra Nevada Corporation, Louisville, Colorado and Madison, Wisconsin
- One descent element study, one descent element prototype, one transfer vehicle study, one transfer vehicle prototype, and one refueling element study
- SpaceX – Hawthorne, California
- One descent element study
- SSL – Palo Alto, California
- One refueling element study and one refueling element prototype