“We’re going to send people to the surface and they’re going to live on that surface and do science,” said Howard Hu who leads the Orion lunar spacecraft program for NASA, the BBC reported Sunday.
NASA successfully launched its powerful new space launch system, or SLS, rocket last week sending the Orion spacecraft toward the moon.
The repeatedly delayed launch set NASA ‘s Artemis missions into motion in the first major step towards putting humans back on the moon in nearly 50 years .
Orion is unmanned this time around, as it intends to test its ability to bring a capsule to the moon and back. But next time she hoped to take astronauts with her as she circled the celestial body.
If all goes well, the same spacecraft could be used to put humans on the surface of the moon for the first time since 1972, including the first female astronaut.
The current plan is for the crew to land near the moon’s south pole where they will spend about a week looking for signs of water. If the precious liquid is found, it could be used to help fuel rockets on their way to Mars.
This would mean that permanent human settlements would need to be built to support mining and scientific activities.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft on board is seen atop the mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B on Monday, August 29, 2022.
“It’s the first step we’re taking towards long-term deep space exploration, not just for the United States, but for the world,” Hu told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.