The last time humans visited the moon, the satellite was a destination.
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The Artemis 1 mission is scheduled to take off Monday morning at 8:33 a.m., unless something unexpected happens. He will be heading to the Moon, where he will spend between 39 and 42 days. “We want to test all systems, from launch to capsule recovery,” explains Isabelle Tremblay, director of astronauts, life sciences and space medicine, at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). “You have to see if the environmental conditions are what you expect, and everything is working perfectly, before you send in the astronauts. Mission data, eg acceleration, vibrations and radiation will be checked afterwards.” The Artemis missions and on the Gateway space station will be much longer and farther away. of the Apollo missions,” adds Mr.I Tremblay. The Apollo lunar missions lasted between ten days and two weeks. The Apollo program also had an unmanned mission around the moon, Apollo 6, in 1968.
A Canadian astronaut will participate in the second Artemis mission, which will remain in orbit around the moon without landing and will not take place before 2024. He will be chosen from among the four current astronauts: David St. Jacques, Jeremy Hansen, Jenny Sadie-Gibbons and Joshua Kotrick. For the moon landing mission, Artemis 3, there will be no Canadians. Artemis 3 is set for 2025 at the earliest, will one of the four Canadian astronauts land on the moon next? “It is possible,” answers M.I Tremblay. There are no plans yet, but if we contribute enough to the programme, yes. In an article published this week in the magazine Aviation Weekformer astronaut Harrison Schmidt suggested that the Artemis mission would explore the Moon’s south pole, where ice is found in craters.
However, a Canadian astronaut will participate in a mission to the lunar station portal, which is scheduled to launch at the end of 2024. The Canadian Space Agency is contributing a robotic arm, Canadarm3, for the Gateway. The reason Artemis 1 will last so long is that the portal will be farther from the moon than any manned mission. Its elliptical orbit would take up to 70,000 km from the surface of the Moon. The Artemis program and the experiments that will be conducted aboard the Gateway station will pave the way to the next destination for manned missions: Mars.
Canada and the Moon
Isabelle Tremblay believes that Canada should participate in the “new lunar economy” that will be developed from the moon’s mineral resources. Canada will be the second country to send an astronaut into orbit around the Moon. I think it reflects our capabilities, says MI Tremblay. This is the first step towards Mars exploration. Expanding our existence beyond Earth is part of our instinct as living beings. It demonstrates our capabilities and reassures the means to improve our living conditions. »
Artemis 1 will bring into orbit ten small satellites less than one meter in diameter. Most of them will examine the Moon, including a Japanese lander. But one of the cubes, the Biosentinel, will examine the effect of space radiation near the moon on yeast growth. And another, NEA Scout, will travel to an asteroid crossing Earth’s orbit (asteroid close to earth). “It would be an asteroid the size of the one that caused damage in Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013,” says Julie Castillo-Rogues, NASA and chief science officer for NEA Scout. “It is important for planetary defense. We will approach the asteroid and fly over it very slowly to determine if it is a dust mound or a solid core. This will allow, if necessary, to determine what kind of damage such an asteroid can cause and how its path is skewed. The diameter of the Chelyabinsk asteroid is estimated to be 20 meters.
NEA Scout will also be the first exploration mission using solar sails, which propels a probe using photons from the sun. “It is the space propulsion engine of the 21st centurye Century,” says Les Johnson, head of NEA Scout at NASA, who has been working on solar sails for 20 years. “It’s a technology that will allow us to explore other solar systems, because we can reach very high speeds. Ultimately, Earth’s defense against asteroids could be provided by hundreds of cubes powered by solar sails, which will closely study threatening asteroids, according to Johnson.
- 90 billion US dollars
- Estimated budget for Artemis by 2025
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