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NASA’s Artemis mission, and the Indian American in its new astronaut cohort

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    21st Jan, 2020

Indian American Raja Chari is among 11 new astronauts who joined NASA’s ranks on Friday (January 10), taking the strength of the active astronauts corps in the United States space agency to 48.

Context

Indian American Raja Chari is among 11 new astronauts who joined NASA’s ranks on Friday (January 10), taking the strength of the active astronauts corps in the United States space agency to 48.

About

  • This cohort of new astronauts may be assigned to space missions to the International Space Station (ISS), the Moon and ultimately, Mars.
  • The agency has targeted the human exploration of Mars by the 2030s.
  • Raja Chari was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class.

Artemis Program

  • NASA wants to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by the year 2024, which it plans on doing through the Artemis lunar exploration program.
  • With the Artemis program, NASA wishes to demonstrate new technologies, capabilities and business approaches that will ultimately be needed for the future exploration of Mars.
  • For the Artemis program, NASA’s new rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS) will send astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft a quarter of a million miles away from Earth to the lunar orbit.
  • Once astronauts dock Orion at the Gateway — which is a small spaceship in orbit around the moon — the astronauts will be able to live and work around the Moon, and from the spaceship, astronauts will take expeditions to the surface of the Moon.
  • The astronauts going for the Artemis program will wear newly designed spacesuits, called Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or xEMU.
  • These spacesuits feature advanced mobility and communications and interchangeable parts that can be configured for spacewalks in microgravity or on a planetary surface.

NASA and the Moon

  • The US began trying to put people in space as early as in 1961.
  • Eight years later, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to step on the Moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission.

Moon exploration

  • In 1959, the Soviet Union’s uncrewed Luna 1 and 2 became the first rover to visit the Moon. Since then, seven nations have followed suit.
  • Before the US sent the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, it sent three classes of robotic missions between 1961 and 1968.
  • Then in the 1990s, the US resumed lunar exploration with robotic missions Clementine and Lunar Prospector.
  • In 2009, it began a new series of robotic lunar missions with the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS).
  • In 2011, NASA began the ARTEMIS (Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence, and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun) mission using a pair of repurposed spacecraft and in 2012 the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft studied the Moon’s gravity.
  • Apart from the US, the European Space Agency, Japan, China, and India have sent missions to explore the Moon.
  • China landed two rovers on the surface, which includes the first-ever landing on the Moon’s far side in 2019.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently announced India’s third lunar mission Chandrayaan-3, which will comprise a lander and a rover.
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