In an interview with the BBC, NASA official Howard Hu said humans might live on the moon this decade if the present Artemis mission was successful.
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According to the NASA official in charge of the Orion lunar spacecraft programme, humans could stay on the moon for long periods of time this decade.
Howard Hu told host Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC that the launch of the Artemis rocket on Wednesday, which is carrying Orion, was a “historic day for human space flight.”
Orion is currently about 134,000km (83,300 miles) from the Moon.
The 100m-tall Artemis rocket blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center as part of Nasa’s mission to take astronauts back to Earth’s satellite.
Sitting atop the rocket is the Orion spacecraft which, for this first mission, is uncrewed but is equipped with a ‘manikin’ which will register the impacts of the flight on the human body.
Wednesday’s flight followed two previous launch attempts in August and September that were aborted during the countdown because of technical woes. -BBC
“It’s the first step we’re taking to long-term deep space exploration, for not just the United States but for the world,” said Hu, adding “And I think this is an historic day for Nasa, but it’s also an historic day for all the people who love human space flight and deep space exploration. “
“I mean, we are going back to the Moon, we’re working towards a sustainable program and this is the vehicle that will carry the people that will land us back on the Moon again.”
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Hu claimed that if the present Artemis mission was successful, the following one would be manned and the third would involve a moon landing.
The current mission was proceeding well, he told the BBC, with all systems working and the mission team preparing for the next firing of Orion’s engines (what is known as a burn) at lunchtime on Monday to put the spacecraft into a distant orbit of the Moon.
Mr Hu admitted that watching the mission from Earth was not unlike being an anxious parent, but he said seeing the images and the videos coming back from Orion “really gives that excitement and feeling of, ‘wow, we are headed back to the Moon'”. -BBC