artemis, artemis ii, artemis iii, artemis program, nasa, nasa kennedy space center, orion, space launch system (sls)

NASA’s continued goal of sending humans into deep space using its Space Launch System (SLS) recently took a giant leap as the world’s largest space agency finalized the SLS Stages Production and Evolution Contract worth $3.2 billion with The Boeing Company in Huntsville, Alabama. The purpose of the contract is for Boeing to keep building SLS core and upper stages for future Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond for at least five more SLS launches.

This finalized contract follows initial funding and authorization provided by NASA in October 2019 for Artemis III-related manufacturing, to include cost-efficient bulk purchases, targeted long-lead materials, and core stage work. This new contract phase keeps Boeing working on SLS through July 2028.

“NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is the only rocket capable of sending large cargos and soon, astronauts to the Moon,” John Honeycutt, SLS Program manager, said in a statement. “The SLS core stage is the backbone of NASA’s Moon rocket, producing more than 2 million pounds of thrust at launch, and the addition of the exploration upper stage will enable NASA to support missions to deep space through the 2030s.”

With the recent success of the uncrewed Artemis I mission to the Moon, this finalized contract demonstrates the confidence NASA now has in the SLS rocket to bring humans back to the Moon for the first time since 1972.

Artemis II, the first crewed mission of the Artemis Program, is currently scheduled for launch from the Kennedy Space Center sometime in 2023. The purpose of this mission will be to conduct a complete shakedown of the Orion spacecraft on a four-day trip as it will travel 7400 kilometers (4600 miles) beyond lunar orbit. This will allow the crew to view both the Earth and the Moon from Orion’s many windows, while marking the farthest humans have traveled from the Earth. This mission will be followed by Artemis III, which will land the first woman and person of color on the Moon’s surface.

For Artemis I through III, SLS utilizes an interim cryogenic propulsion stage with only one RL10 engine to propel NASA’s Orion spacecraft to the Moon. But starting with Artemis IV, NASA will be utilizing the SLS Block 1B configuration, which will use the more powerful exploration upper stage (EUS), larger fuel tanks, and four RL10 engines to send both crewed missions and bigger cargos to the lunar surface.

For now, the Artemis II core stage is scheduled for both completion and shipment to the Kennedy Space Center in 2023, with the Artemis III engine section recently shipped to Kennedy onboard NASA’s Pegasus barge, as well.

As stated, no human has visited the Moon since 1972, which happened on Apollo 17. This finalized contract between NASA and Boeing continues to write the history books and open a new chapter for deep space exploration to the Moon and beyond.

How successful will the Artemis missions be to the Moon, and eventually Mars? Only time will tell, and this is why we science!

As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!

NEWS RELATED

NASA’s TESS spots a second potentially habitable Earth-sized planet

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has found success in detecting various exoplanets throughout the universe. Now, though, the satellite has detected what scientists believe may be a second possibly habitable Earth-sized planet in a system called TOI 700. The planet, which is believed to be rocky like our ...

View more: NASA’s TESS spots a second potentially habitable Earth-sized planet

NASA finds Earth-size planet that could be habitable: ‘An exciting prospect’

Our galaxy may have acquired some new real estate. NASA has discovered an Earth-size planet orbiting around a faraway star — and it could be habitable. Dubbed TOI 700 e, the exoplanet is the fourth discovered in the TOI 700 system, at 100 light-years away. The research team presented the ...

View more: NASA finds Earth-size planet that could be habitable: ‘An exciting prospect’

NASA can now track CO2 emissions more accurately from space

According to a recent study, researchers were able to use space-based measurements from NASA satellites to track carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions more accurately. This was made possible thanks to the two NASA missions that work hand-in-hand together. These missions, called Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) 2 and 3, help quantify CO2 ...

View more: NASA can now track CO2 emissions more accurately from space

Iconic NASA satellite that helped slow global warming falls back to Earth

After 38 years in orbit, a dead NASA satellite has returned to Earth. The satellite, known as the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, or ERBS, was launched in 1984 aboard the space shuttle Challenger. The satellite worked until 2005, collecting data about how Earth absorbed and radiated energy from our Sun. ...

View more: Iconic NASA satellite that helped slow global warming falls back to Earth

NASA shares photo of C/2022 E3 comet streaking through space

Today’s astronomy photo of the day is none other than the comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF). Astronomers first discovered the comet in early March of 2022. Comet E3 is set to pass by Earth at the end of this month, coming its closest to Earth on February 1. Until then, though, ...

View more: NASA shares photo of C/2022 E3 comet streaking through space

Curiosity rover may have found a water source on Mars

If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, BGR may receive an affiliate commission. Curiosity rover may have found a water source on Mars curiosity Various spacecraft and rovers are scouring the surface of the Red Planet, looking for anything that could help ...

View more: Curiosity rover may have found a water source on Mars

Stargazing in January: a scintillating sparkling star in the south

Dazzling Sirius outshines its tiny companion – the ‘Pup’ – ten thousand times over (Nasa/Hubble) This winter, our skies are spangled with plenty of brilliant lights, headed up by the bright planets Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. But there’s one that stands out from the others: a scintillating light ...

View more: Stargazing in January: a scintillating sparkling star in the south

These are some of the biggest space missions of 2023

2023 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for astronomers, with a once-in-a-lifetime comet set to pass by Earth later this month. But it isn’t just this month that we have to look forward to. This year is huge for space missions. To celebrate, let’s look at some ...

View more: These are some of the biggest space missions of 2023

Old NASA satellite falling from sky this weekend

NASA video explains why Venus is often called ‘Earth’s evil twin’

NASA’s new X-59 plane is designed to break the sound barrier quietly

Hubble photographed a gorgeous open star cluster 160,000 light-years away

Houston, Short Wave Is On The Line

Last surviving Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham dead at 90

Stunning galactic merger captured by James Webb

‘Magic mushroom’ gets high praise from Le Bernardin chef Eric Ripert

The best James Webb images of 2022

Is there life on Mars? A NASA scientist says no

10 quantum myths that need to be busted

Dazzling new Hubble photos show stars sparkling in a globular cluster

OTHER NEWS