NASA's Planned Lunar Mission Will
Include the First Women on the Moon
by Mariama Bah, age 13
In 1969, Neil Armstrong was the first man to reach the Moon. In 1983, Sally Ride was the first American woman to walk in space. And now through Artemis, a new lunar exploration program, there are plans to send the first woman to the Moon as soon as 2024.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told CNN that the first female astronaut to walk on the moon will be someone “who has been proven, somebody who has flown, somebody who has been on the International Space Station already” and someone who is currently in the astronaut corps. Bridenstine wants to release the identities of the team soon, at least two years before the mission, hoping it will be a beacon of inspiration for girls all over the world who are witnessing this iconic time in history.
In December of 2017, President Donald Trump signed the Space Policy Directive 1 which allowed NASA to work alongside private-sector companies with the goal of sending humans to space for “long term exploration and use.” Since then, NASA has been tasked with finding a safe way to send humans to the Moon for the first time since 1972. Congress has allotted $600 million out of the $28 billion for costs associated with Artemis such as funding for the Space Launch System, the Orion capsule, the Human Landing System, and for new and improved space suits. However, the administration’s 2024 timeline is dependent on the extra $3.2 bn needed for the Human Landing System and other costs. Bridenstine explains, “The budget request that we have before the House and the Senate right now includes $3.2bn for 2021 for the human landing system. It is critically important that we get that $3.2bn.”
The White House is hoping this mission will be the first step to “American leadership in space.” The next steps will include a series of missions to different planets and a permanent lunar base. There are also plans to extract multiple resources from the Moon and convert them into other valuable resources like oxygen and water. One plan is to extract water-ice from the lunar south pole and use it to make rocket fuel on the Moon, reducing the overall cost considerably compared to making the rocket fuel on Earth. This will help build a foundation for the lunar economy.
Currently, NASA is planning the Artemis I mission to launch in Fall of 2021 and to make two test flights around the Moon without astronauts. Then in 2023, Artemis II is set to launch with astronauts on board for a fly by of the Moon. And finally, the historic lunar landing is scheduled for October 2024 which will bring a woman to the surface of the Moon for the first time ever.
[Sources: CNN; BBC News; Associated Press]