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NASA is getting ready to send the first woman and next man to the Moon, where they’ll be the first humans to walk the lunar surface since 1972.
The space agency unveiled its updated Artemis plan on Monday, a $28 billion outline that details its goal of having astronauts head to the Moon in 2024 to eventually help them prepare for human exploration of Mars.
“With bipartisan support from Congress, our 21st century push to the Moon is well within America’s reach,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. “We’re going back to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits and inspiration for a new generation of explorers.”
The first mission, Artemis I, will take place without astronauts in 2021 as a test flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) and an Orion spacecraft around the Moon. A crew will fly with Artemis II in 2023.
Then, in 2024, Artemis III will head to the Moon with humans, and the astronauts will land on the lunar South Pole. They will travel about 240,000 miles aboard the Orion before boarding one of NASA’s new commercial landing systems, according to the agency.
Once they reach the Moon, the astronauts will collect samples and conduct various science experiments over the course of seven days before heading back on the Orion.
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The rover named Perseverance launched on Thursday, July 30, 2020
“As part of its Artemis program, NASA plans to send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024 and establish a sustainable presence there by the end of the decade,” NASA said in a statement. “The agency will use the Moon to prepare for its next giant leap – human exploration of Mars.
Bridenstine said 2024 was “the most ambitious date possible” in the plan’s outline, and said it was four years earlier than the original 2028 plan.
The expedited timeline relies on $3.2 billion from Congress in order to build a landing system, the BBC reported.
Bridenstine reportedly broke down the $28 billion total costs, and said it will support SLS funding, Orion funding, the human landing system and spacesuits.
“The budget requested that we have before the House and the Senate right now includes $3.2 billion for 2021 for the human landing system,” he said, according to the outlet. “It is critically important that we get that $3.2 billion.”
NASA currently has 16 female astronauts, according to its list. Bridenstine told CNN Business last year that the agency might already have an idea as to who will be making the giant leap for womankind.
“It will be somebody who has proven, somebody who has flown, somebody who has been on the International Space Station already,” he said. “We’re looking for, of course, the most qualified candidates, and we have some amazingly talented and highly qualified candidates.”