The plans concerning NASA’s next Moon landing are starting to take form. The space exploration organization wants to conduct both manned and unmanned Moon missions in the near future. The current schedule for the lander construction has a 2024 estimated time of completion. This will be followed by an enhanced version of the same lander.
Scouting out the Moon
Another craft will be ready to launch in 2021 with a different task. Orion will act as a scout for the lunar lander, setting up parameters for navigation and logistics. The main Moon mission will be called Artemis-1 and will be the first such endeavor since 1972.
NASA is currently accepting and reviewing proposals from different parties that wish to contribute to the effort. The main mission objective is to build and launch a lander that would be capable to carry two astronauts the lunar South Pole. That will be followed by a second mission that would be able to transport four astronauts to the Moon. Companies that design and build spacecraft can contribute to the project.
NASA has long-term goals for its Moon missions. A permanent outpost is desired and the landers need to be built to further this plan along. For this purpose, eleven companies have been announced in May 2019 to carry out proposals. The next lunar landers will have an easier job due to the assistance of the Lunar Gateway, an upcoming lunar space station. The lander is expected to act as a transfer vehicle, that would allow astronauts to descend from the space station to the surface and back again.
The 50th anniversary of the Moon landing took place on the 20th of July. NASA used this opportunity to unveil the crew module for the upcoming Artemis 1 mission. It has been said that it is a new class of craft that is designed for long space stays. It will be used in the Moon missions and possibly the trip to Mars.