The first unmanned flight of the new American spacecraft Orion under the Artemis program will take place in 2021, said the head of the US space agency Jim Bridenstein, presenting at a briefing an official plan for the return of the Americans to a natural satellite of the Earth.
The test flight of the spacecraft, named Artemis-1, will last for about a month. It will be followed in 2023 by the manned flight of the Artemis-2 with a crew on board, said Katie Leiders, head of NASA’s commercial manned flight program. Landing on the lunar surface at this stage is not envisaged.
According to the plan, during the Artemis-3 mission, which is to take place in 2024, astronauts will already land on the lunar surface. It is planned to be carried out in the area of the Moon’s South Plus. Two astronauts, a man and the first woman on the Moon, will spend seven days on the surface.
The Artemis-3 mission plan calls for the astronauts to use a lander to land on the Moon. The second option involves first docking with the lunar station Gateway, and then using the lander.
Although the final decision on using the Gateway station during the Artemis-3 mission has not yet been made, within the framework of the Artemis-4 mission and all subsequent Orion ships will dock at Gateway Station. Two crew members will remain on board in orbit, while the other two astronauts will travel to the lunar surface.