NASA looks ahead to more trips to the moon beyond Artemis I

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — NASA’s uncrewed return mission to the moon hasn’t lifted off yet, but the agency is already talking about what’s next.

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On Wednesday afternoon, NASA announced new opportunities for commercial companies to develop an astronaut moon lander.

NASA is looking for more options as it prepares for sustained presence on the moon. Artemis I is expected to lift off from the Space Coast in a matter of weeks.

READ: NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket to make first historic journey to the launch pad

At the Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s moon rocket and Orion spacecraft stand ready at Launch Complex 39B ahead of one final “major” test ahead of Artemis I, an uncrewed mission around the moon.

American astronauts aren’t expected to set foot back on the moon before 2025 during the Artemis III mission. SpaceX is building a starship human lander system that will ferry those astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface.

READ: NASA offering to fly your name around the moon on Artemis I

Under this new approach, NASA is asking more American companies to propose their own lander concepts for missions beyond Artemis III.

SpaceX will have an opportunity to continue its lunar lander development and demonstration under its existing contract. Under NASA’s long-term requirements, new landers must have the capability to dock to a lunar orbiting space station, known as a gateway, increase crew capacity and transport more science and technology.

NASA plans to release a draft for proposals for sustaining lunar development.

READ: UCF, NASA researchers design ‘power suits’ for electric vehicles, spacecraft

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.