NASA has announced the planned launch dates for its Artemis I rocket test flight around the Moon as it prepares for a future human mission to the lunar surface in 2025.
The dates of August 29, September 2, and September 5 will serve as placeholder times for the uncrewed flight to orbit the Moon, according to a NASA teleconference with media Wednesday.
“The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight test that will provide a foundation for human exploration in deep space and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and eventually Mars,” according to a statement from NASA.
— NASA (@NASA) July 20, 2022
The announcement of the launch dates follows the team’s recent successful test or “dress rehearsal” that was necessary to move forward with the planned launch.
The media teleconference was held on the 53rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 1969, during which the first humans set foot on the Moon. According to a video released by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the astronauts’ tracks are still detectable.
It’s #InternationalMoonDay! Today marks the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing – the first time that humans stepped on the surface of another world. This video from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the astronauts' tracks, still there after all this time. pic.twitter.com/LVDkFeEcYP
— NASA Moon (@NASAMoon) July 20, 2022
The last human Moon landing occurred in 1972, with NASA now aggressively planning a return to its surface.
NASA’s Artemis I is the precursor to the Artemis II that is on pace to launch for the first time in 2024. The space agency has its sights set on humans returning to the Moon’s surface in 2025 or 2026.
The Artemis mission from NASA plans to land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon. The space program also intends to “collaborate with commercial and international partners and establish the first long-term presence on the Moon.”
The Artemis mission extends beyond the Moon. NASA plans to “use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars.”
NASA is not the only program with its eyes on the Moon and beyond. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said in a Time magazine article from December that he hopes to reach the Moon by 2023 and expressed a goal of humans reaching the red planet by the end of the decade.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who is behind the space company Blue Origin, is already working with NASA on the Blue Moon lander. Together with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper, the groups are developing the human landing system with the goal of “returning Americans to the lunar surface, opening the Moon for business, and building a path to Mars.”
Internationally, China and Russia announced in 2021 that they intend to build a Moon base together, inviting other nations to join them. Last month, the BBC reported that China has plans to put its first astronauts on the Moon and send a Mars sample return rover to the red planet by 2030.