NASA’s Return To The Moon
By Vicky Wu
Have you ever dreamed of living in outer space? Well, your dream might just come true. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is an organization that was established in the United States by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on July 29, 1958, officially opening on October 1, 1958.
NASA focuses on researching space and the world beyond our planet Earth. Although their original purpose was to solely focus on exploring outer space, they are now also responsible for the study of outer space science, space technology, and space travel to other planets for new discoveries. NASA, having had several successful moon landings in the past, instilled a sense of credibility in their current plans of returning to the moon.
NASA, a highly influential organization in exploring outer space and creating technology, started their first successful mission: Explorer 1. Explorer 1's purpose was to launch the first satellite into space, and it went successfully on January 31, 1958. It was then followed by a few more successful satellite missions later.
However, the Explorer 1 was not the most remarkable success NASA has ever had. The most well-known was the first successful moon landing by Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969. Unfortunately, Apollo 17, the final Apollo— taken in December of 1972—marked the end of the Apollo program. Due to the decline of public interest and the government’s shift in focus to the Vietnam War, NASA lacked the money funded by others to continue exploring.
It has been 45 years since the last Apollo exploration ended. During those 45 years, NASA has not sent any men to the moon due to a policy made by President Obama after Apollo 17. However, on December 11, 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1, allowing NASA to return to the moon for the continuation of exploration in the solar system.
“The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery,” said President Trump. “It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints—we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps someday to many worlds beyond.”
As a result, the benefits of the new space policy allowed NASA to finally set up its mission on exploration to the moon. This time, NASA is making a long-term plan to send astronauts back to the moon with the Artemis program. They did so in the hope of sending the first woman and the first man of color while focusing on paying a visit to the darker side of the moon–the lunar south pole that’s always facing away from the Earth.
Ultimately, on November 16, 2022, NASA made its first launch on Artemis I. According to NASA officials, “Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft around the Moon.” Fortunately, Artemis I was a success, safely landing back to Earth on December 11, 2022. Now, they are working on testing Artemis II, the first crewed flight, in November 2024. However, the exact date has yet to be confirmed. Artemis III, the second crewed Artemis and the first crewed southern-lunar landing will launch in 2025.
The Artemis IV mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2028, will advance the moon as the gateway to traveling deeper into the solar system. According to NASA officials, “We will build an Artemis Base Camp on the surface (of the Moon).” After the settlement of advanced technology and humans, NASA will begin its new challenging missions to travel to Mars. “Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars,” said NASA officials. For now, “We are going to the Moon, to stay, by 2024.”