In this decade, a NASA official claimed, people might spend a lot of time on the moon, BBC reported.  According to Howard Hu, the agency’s programme manager for the Orion lunar spacecraft, habitats would be necessary to enable scientific missions.

He declared that Wednesday’s launch of the Artemis rocket, which is carrying Orion, was a “historic day for human space flight.”  Orion is currently 83,300 miles (or 134,000 km) away from the Moon. As part of its goal to return astronauts to the Earth’s satellite, NASA launched the 100-meter-tall Artemis rocket from the Kennedy Space Center.

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The Orion spacecraft, which is perched atop the rocket and is on its first journey without a crew, is fitted with a “manikin” that will measure the effects of the flight on the human body.

Following two previous launch attempts that were scrubbed due to technical difficulties during the countdown in August and September, Wednesday’s flight was successful.

Hu described seeing Artemis take flight as “a dream” and “an unbelievable feeling.”

“It’s the first step we’re taking to long-term deep space exploration, for not just the United States but for the world,” Hu said.

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He continued, “And I think this is a historic day for Nasa, but it’s also a 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 programme and this is the vehicle that will carry the people that will land us back on the Moon again.”

Hu indicated that if the current Artemis mission was successful, a crew would go on the following mission, which would be followed by a third mission in which astronauts would return to the Moon for the first time since Apollo 17 50 years ago in December 1972.

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He reported that the present mission was going well, with all systems functioning and the mission team getting ready for the next “burn” of Orion’s engines, which will send the spacecraft into a far-off orbit around the Moon at noon on Monday.

Hu acknowledged that following the trip from Earth was similar to being a worried parent, but he added that watching the photographs and movies returned by Orion “really gives that excitement and feeling of, ‘wow, we are headed back to the Moon.'”

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The Orion module’s safe return to Earth is one of the Artemis I mission’s most important phases. At 32 times the speed of sound, or 38,000 km/h (24,000 mph), it will re-enter the atmosphere of the planet, subjecting the shield on its bottom to temperatures of almost 3,000 °C.

Hu stated that the goal was to have humans living on the Moon “in this decade” after the components and systems of Artemis have been thoroughly tested and confirmed to be safe.

He emphasized that determining if water exists at the Moon’s south pole is a major motivation for returning there because it might be used as fuel for spacecraft travelling further into space, like to Mars.

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“We’re going to be sending people down to the surface and they’re going to be living on that surface and doing science,” Hu clarified.

“It’s really going to be very important for us to learn a little bit beyond our Earth’s orbit and then do a big step when we go to Mars. And the Artemis missions enable us to have a sustainable platform and transportation system that allows us to learn how to operate in that deep space environment,” he added.

On December 11, the Orion capsule should return to Earth.