As NASA moves closer to returning humans to the moon and reaching Mars for the first time, the space agency has developed a comprehensive plan establish a long-term human presence at both locations. In an important next step, the plan passed its first internal review.
NASA’s Architecture Definition Document, along with the six white papers and accompanying executive summary, is a giant technical document outlining the agency’s plan for sending crews to the Moon and Mars sustainably and safely. The document describes the key international and commercial partnerships, hardware and operations required for these highly complicated – and dangerous –missions. As NASA announced today in a press releasethis plan successfully passed the agency’s architectural concept review.
The recently completed review is a “milestone that will help our Moon-to-Mars strategy unfold through the near- and long-term mission objectives,” NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy said in the press release. “We are aligned with partners for a future of expanded economic opportunity, scientific discovery and greater activity on and around the moon and with limitless opportunity deeper in the solar system.”
The 158-page document – published on-line Earlier this month – breaks down the multi-decadal plan for humans to explore the Moon and Mars into distinct phases. These phases include returning humans to the moon, establishing a human presence on the lunar surface, maintaining that presence for commercial and scientific purposes, and transporting humans and cargo from the moon to Mars and back.
And as NASA explains in its press release: “The architecture is not a mission, manifesto, or set of requirements, but defines the elements—rockets, spacecraft, rovers, space suits, communications relays, and more—that will be progressively developed and delivered to the Moon and Mars for a long time to come. Term, human-led scientific discovery in space.”
Taking people to the moon is NASA’s top priority for the Artemis missions. The first of these successfully tested the new SLS mega rocket and the Orion unmanned spacecraft. How the agency plans to stay on the lunar surface was less certain. While we’ve seen teasing about NASA’s goals for a lunar presence like this Plans for a human landing system, moon buggyAnd Artemis Base CampThe new document examines the landing and exploration side of the mission – called Foundational Exploration and Sustained Lunar Evolution – more thoroughly.
In particular, NASA is attempting to increase the duration and capabilities of both surface and orbital lunar missions during the foundation phase. These missions will serve as testbeds for future surface and orbital efforts around Mars. The scientific goals in this part of the Moon to Mars strategy include planetary science and human and plant biology.
The founding phase “will necessarily have to initiate activities and capabilities that will be affected by future needs” of the persistent lunar environment phase and also the human-to-Mars phase, the document reads. “These activities include reconnaissance, Mars risk reduction and INItial infrastructure” required to support the long-term Moon missions.
While the document is incredibly detailed, from hardware to spacecraft To achieve the mission goals, NASA is still far from landing humans on the lunar surface and even further away from landing humans on Mars.
NASA launched the Artemis 1 unmanned mission in November 2022and during the manned Artemis 2 mission These four are planned for November 2024 Astronauts will not land on the lunar surface. It won’t be to Artemis 3, planned launch at the end of 2025that people could finally return lunar surface. As for Mars, that may not happen until the 2030s or 2040s, and possibly even later given the immense complexity of an occupation Mission to the Red Planet.
Apart from these timelinesthe lengthy architecture definition document, shows how serious NASA is about maintaining a human presence on the lunar surface and then using those findings to eventually reach Mars.
Want to know more about mankind’s next great leap into space? Check out our full coverage of NASA’s Artemis Moon programthe new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraftThe recently completed mission Artemis 1 around the moon, the four-person Artemis 2 crew, Artemis Moon Suit by NASA and Axiomand the coming Lunar Gateway space station. And for more space travel in your life, keep following us Twitter and bookmark dedicated to Gizmodo Space travel page.