by KRISTOFER PURNELL
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has unveiled their plans for their upcoming Artemis program which aims to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024. According to NASA’s website, they will use innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before and eventually make the big leap in a few more years’ time to send astronauts to Mars.
Artemis is an apt name for this next venture of NASA since she is known as the Greek goddess of the moon and the twin sister of Apollo, whose name was given for the missions that first sent men to the moon fifty years ago.
NASA also unveiled the logo for the Artemis program, fully explaining on its website what each part symbolizes. Plainly seen is an “A” standing for Artemis, but it can also be seen as an arrowhead in reference to the goddess Artemis’ role as a huntress. At the top portion of the logo is the moon, with the tip of the letter “A” rising above it to signify the program’s plans to go beyond the moon. The blue crescent on which the “A” stands is meant to be the Earth, from which the programs will depart and return, and receive all provisions for energy, effort, and support. A curved red line acts as the “A’s” crossbar, also to signify the trajectory of the missions heading to the moon, and the letter red symbolizing how the end goal is reaching Mars.
Accompanying the program logo are a program patch, colored in silver and shaped as an arrowhead once more to symbolize Artemis, and a “Woman on the Moon” logo which depicts the Greek goddess Artemis’s face through the highlights and shadows of the crescent moon topography—as NASA explains, “Her features are abstract enough that all women can see themselves in her.”
Artemis will involve six trips to the moon, with the first two being sending human spacecraft to the moon and its orbit in the 21st century—these will be followed by three support missions to prepare the landing site (expected to be the moon’s south pole), and eventually a crewed mission to the lunar surface by 2024.
Women in space
Last Oct. 18, NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir completed the first-ever spacewalk by an all-women team—it was Koch’s fourth spacewalk, and Meir’s first, and the International Space Station’s 221st spacewalk overall. The astronaut class the two women were in had the highest percentage of women of any group of astronaut candidates to date.
Overall there have been 42 spacewalks where women have participated in, dating back to Russian Svetlana Savitskaya in 1984. This December Koch will aim to beat the 288-day record held by Peggy Whitson for the longest amount of time continuously spent in space by an American woman. Before Savitskaya, her compatriot Valentina Tereshkova made her way to history books as the first and youngest woman to fly into space during a solo mission in 1963, six years before men landed on the moon.