As an avid sci-fi fan, here’s a NASA mission that gets me excited- a mission to the moon, and Mars!
Sure, we’ve already sent men to the moon, and we have rovers occupying Mars, but it’s still fascinating to see what mankind can do, and how far we can stretch the boundaries. Humans are capable of amazing feats: we’ve colonized nearly every area of Earth, created mind-boggling technology, developed cures, climbed the highest mountains, traveled through space, and much more. But it’s always fun to push ourselves beyond the limit.
The Artemis space program is a mission aiming to put men and women on the moon by 2024, and once there, they will explore the surface, utilize new technologies, market their developments, and work to support yearly missions in an effort to maintain a permanent human presence. And, someday, reach Mars!
Astronauts boarding the Orion spacecraft will travel to lunar orbit using the most powerful rocket ever built and dock at Gateway- a lunar outpost that can be moved between orbits; it will be their new home, office, and command module. Once there, they will be able to shuttle to the moon’s surface via a reusable lunar lander. Commercial deliveries of instruments will be waiting for them when they arrive. And when finished, they’ll return to orbit and make the journey back to Earth aboard Orion.
While on the moon, the crew plans to use natural resources. There’s enough water ice that can be extracted for various purposes; not only can it be purified for drinking, but it can also be turned into oxygen for breathing, or hydrogen for rocket fuel.
Needless to say, space is hostile. Crew members will be exposed to radiation, have limited access to oxygen, food and water, experience little to no gravity, and face many other dangers. The slightest mishap could doom everyone and halt future missions.
Obviously, space isn’t the ideal environment for humans, but I believe the challenges, once overcome, will benefit all mankind; new technologies and advancements will be perfected, and we can put some of them to use in our every-day lives, thanks to those who risked their lives for a worthy cause.
Of course, there are other drawbacks to space exploration, such as cost, and it also depends on the objectives. Searching for alien life, for example, would be fruitless, but learning how to sustain humans in harsh environments would be beneficial. Sadly, one of the stated goals seems to be based on fear; NASA claims exploration is “critical to the continuation of our species” and “Humanity must build a path to an Earth-independent existence”. These kinds of goals only serve to instill fear, as if the Earth is unsustainable, and mankind is going to go extinct if we can’t colonize space or other worlds.
The truth is, the Earth was created and designed by God to sustain human beings, and is (most likely) the only hospitable planet in the universe. I like the idea of space exploration and colonization, but not out of fear; it should be based on our curiosity, the desire to discover, learn, overcome, and succeed- and to engage the human spirit. I think NASA’s goals should be positive and constructive, not destructive or based on fear and pessimism.
The final destination of Artemis is a pathway to Mars; however, it doesn’t seem like that will happen anytime soon. We might have a long wait before a human boot steps on the red planet. Before that happens, NASA plans on exploring the entire surface of the moon- which is quite large- and that could take a while. But I’m hopeful that will happen within my lifetime!