You’ve probably heard of NASA’s Artemis mission. They’ve been designing and building the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft for about a dozen years. It’s NASA’s program to bring crews back to the Moon’s surface and eventually build a permanent base on the Moon.
The plan is for the Artemis I mission to launch as an uncrewed test flight, possibly as early as 08:30 AM (or so) EST tomorrow morning. As we speak they’ve had a delay in starting the fueling due to thunderstorms in the area, so that time may bet bumped a bit, but they have a two-hour long window, so there’s some slack available. If they aren’t able to launch tomorrow morning (this is a first launch, a gazillion things could hold them up) they have more launch opportunities later in the week and next week.
This will be about a 40 to 42 day mission, depending a little on when they launch. It’s that whole “we’re moving, the Moon’s moving, orbital mechanics” thing.
If all goes well (eventually) with Artemis I, then Artemis II in 2023 or 2024 will carry a crew. They won’t land on the Moon, but they’ll go past it, around it, and then back to check out the whole system. If that goes well, then Artemis III is scheduled for 2025 to land a crew near the South Pole of the Moon. That crew wouldn’t be there for a day like Apollo 11 or even three days like Apollo 17. It would stay for a couple of weeks at least and start working on the foundation for a future lunar base.
There’s no “maybe” to me if we’re talking about going back, just “maybe” in terms of whether Artemis I will be launching tomorrow or not. Even if NASA wasn’t building Artemis, SpaceX has clear plans to get crewed and cargo missions there using Starship, and that should be flying in six to twelve months, with crewed flights not too long afterwards. Not to mention the Chinese, who have a clearly stated goal of putting their crews on the Moon.
When I was four, my dad got up up at O’Dark Thirty to watch Scott Carpenter and John Glenn go into space. In 1973, while only 17, I went to Florida to watch Skylab launch. I’ve been dragging my butt out of bed way too early to watch Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Shuttle, ISS, and SpaceX. I’m sure I’ll be up too early tomorrow morning as well.
You can watch live also, on NASA-TV.
If the weather has turned bad or something else has gone south and they’ve scrubbed, I’ll go back to bed and we’ll try again in a few days. If not, I’ll be hoping to see our spacecraft go back to the Moon.
Let’s hope it’s a good day to go to space! If not, let’s hope they remember that it’s better to be safe down here, wishing you were up there, than to be in trouble up there, wishing you were down here.