Artemis Logo with image of the moon behind and mars behind that

Humanity's Next Giant Leap: Inside the NASA Artemis Program's Quest to Establish Sustainable Lunar Exploration

The universe is a vast and enigmatic expanse that has captivated humans for millennia. From ancient civilisations mapping the stars to modern-day astronauts exploring the cosmos, the quest for knowledge and understanding has driven us to ever-greater heights. The Artemis program is NASA's next big step in exploring deep space and establishing a sustained presence on the moon. With the Artemis program, we are poised to embark on a new era of space exploration that will take us further than we've ever gone before.

Artemis is more than just a mission or a program; it's a vision for the future of humanity. It's an ambitious plan to establish a sustainable, long-term presence on the Moon, using innovative technologies, unprecedented international partnerships, and ground-breaking scientific discoveries to push the boundaries of what's possible. By doing so, we will not only fulfill our innate curiosity about the cosmos but also lay the foundation for a new age of space exploration that will shape the destiny of our species.

The Artemis program builds on the legacy of the Apollo missions, which marked the first time humans set foot on another celestial body. However, Artemis is not simply a repeat of the past; it's a bold new step forward that will enable us to accomplish more than we ever could have imagined back in the 1960s. Artemis will use cutting-edge technologies like the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft, as well as new innovations in robotics, artificial intelligence, and life support systems, to create a permanent base on the Moon that will serve as a gateway to the stars.

NASA Artemis Program - "We Are Going"

Artemis is about more than just science and exploration. It's also about inspiration and discovery. By pushing the limits of human achievement, we inspire future generations to dream big and pursue their passions. By exploring the unknown, we unlock new scientific discoveries that can transform our understanding of the universe and improve life on Earth. And by working together across nations and cultures, we foster understanding, collaboration, and peace.

The Artemis program is a testament to what humans can accomplish when we work together towards a common goal. It represents the best of our scientific, technological, and human potential, and it offers a vision of a brighter future for all of us. So join us on this incredible journey, as we embark on the next great adventure in human history - the Artemis program.


The Artemis program has two primary goals:

  1. To return humans to the Moon by 2025: The Artemis program aims to land the first woman and first person of colour on the lunar surface by 2025. This will be the first time humans have set foot on the Moon since the last Apollo mission in 1972. To achieve this goal, NASA is developing new technologies and capabilities that will enable sustained human presence on the Moon. The Artemis program has a phased approach, with at least eight missions planned over the coming decade.

  2. To establish a sustainable presence on the Moon: The Artemis program aims to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon by the end of the decade. This will involve building a lunar gateway, a space station that will orbit the Moon and serve as a staging point for lunar landings and other missions. The lunar gateway will also serve as a platform for scientific research, allowing astronauts to conduct experiments in a microgravity environment and study the Moon's geology and environment. NASA also plans to use resources on the Moon, such as water ice, to support human exploration and sustain life on the lunar surface.  

Artist Impression of Moon Base Concept

Moon Base Concept
Image Credit: ESA - P.Carril

The objectives of the Artemis program are:

  1.  Conducting scientific research: The Artemis program aims to advance our understanding of the Moon and its history, as well as the formation and evolution of the solar system. This will involve studying the Moon's geology, atmosphere, and environment, as well as conducting experiments in a microgravity environment.

  2. Developing new technologies: The Artemis program aims to develop new technologies that will enable sustained human presence on the Moon and support future exploration of Mars and other destinations in the solar system. This includes new spacecraft, habitats, and rovers, as well as advanced life support systems and propulsion technologies.

  3. Demonstrating new capabilities for human spaceflight: The Artemis program aims to demonstrate new capabilities for human spaceflight, including long-duration missions, lunar landings, and the use of in-situ resources. This will enable NASA to develop the skills and expertise needed for future missions to Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

The Artemis program represents a new era of human space exploration, one that will push the boundaries of what is possible and pave the way for future generations of astronauts to explore the wonders of the universe.


The Lunar Gateway is a small space station that will be built in orbit around the Moon. It will serve as a hub for scientific experiments, technology demonstrations, and human missions to the lunar surface. The Gateway will be constructed in multiple phases, starting with the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) that will provide the station with electricity, communications, and propulsion. The PPE is being developed by Maxar Technologies and is scheduled to launch on a commercial rocket in 2024

The Gateway will also include a habitation module, where astronauts will live and work, and a logistics module, which will provide storage space for supplies and equipment. In addition, the Gateway will have a docking port for the lunar lander, which will transport astronauts to and from the lunar surface.

A diagram of NASA Gateway with all of its components
Gateway Components
Image Credit: NASA

The lunar lander, known as the Human Landing System (HLS), is being developed by SpaceX after being awarded the contract in April 2021. The HLS will consist of two parts: a descent element, which will take astronauts from the Gateway to the surface, and an ascent element, which will bring them back to the Gateway.

The HLS will use a combination of gaseous oxygen and methane for propulsion, and will be able to carry up to four astronauts at a time. The lander will also be equipped with a number of scientific instruments to conduct experiments on the lunar surface. It is estimated that the total cost of developing and building the HLS is expected to be around $16 billion over 5 years.

Once the Lunar Gateway and the lunar lander are fully operational, they will enable NASA to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon and pave the way for future human missions to Mars and beyond.

NASA Selects NASA for Artemis Human Lunar Lander Development


The Artemis program has an ambitious timeline for future missions, building up to the goal of landing the first woman and first person of colour on the Moon by 2025. As of early 2023, the program has already achieved its first milestone, with the successful launch of the Artemis I mission in November 2021. The uncrewed mission tested the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft in preparation for future crewed missions.

Next up is Artemis II, an crewed mission with four astronauts on board the Orion spacecraft, which will perform a lunar flyby without landing on the Moon. This mission is expected to launch in 2024 and will take astronauts around the Moon and back, testing the spacecraft's systems and capabilities in a crewed environment.

The third mission, Artemis III, is the program's flagship mission and aims to land the first woman and the first person of colour on the Moon by 2025. This mission will build on the knowledge gained from the previous missions and will pave the way for a sustainable human presence on the Moon.

NASA - How We Are Going To The Moon

Beyond Artemis III, NASA has plans for additional crewed missions to the Moon, with the goal of establishing a sustainable presence there by the end of the decade. In total, NASA has confirmed plans for at least six crewed missions to the Moon as part of the Artemis program, with additional missions possible depending on funding and progress.

Overall, the Artemis program represents an exciting new era of human space exploration, with a clear timeline and roadmap for future missions. By establishing a sustained presence on the Moon, NASA hopes to unlock new scientific discoveries, develop new technologies, and inspire a new generation of scientists and explorers.


The Artemis program is not just a NASA endeavor but also involves partnerships with international and commercial entities. These partnerships have enabled NASA to advance the program's objectives more efficiently and effectively.

One of the primary international partners in the Artemis program is the European Space Agency (ESA), which is contributing key components to the Lunar Gateway, including the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) module. The HALO module will provide additional living space for astronauts and will serve as a hub for research and experimentation.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is also a significant international partner, providing the Canadarm3 robotic arm that will be used to assemble and maintain the Lunar Gateway. The arm will also assist in the deployment and servicing of scientific instruments on the lunar surface.

In addition to these partnerships, the Artemis program has also enlisted the support of commercial partners, including SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics, to develop and provide the lunar landers that will transport astronauts from the Lunar Gateway to the lunar surface.

SpaceX was awarded a $2.9 billion contract to develop a human-rated Starship vehicle, while Blue Origin and Dynetics received $579 million and $253 million contracts, respectively, to develop their own lunar landers. These partnerships are essential in NASA's efforts to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon and advance human space exploration.

Lundar Landing Systems, Side by Side

Lunar Landers on Offer

Overall, NASA's international and commercial partnerships are an important component of the Artemis program, enabling the agency to leverage expertise and resources from a wide range of stakeholders to achieve its goals.


The Artemis program is one of the most ambitious human space exploration efforts in history. It represents a critical milestone in our quest to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon and beyond. Through the development of new technologies, partnerships with international and commercial entities, and a steadfast commitment to innovation and exploration, NASA is taking significant strides towards achieving the goals of the program.

The contributions of international and commercial partners have been instrumental in the program's success. From SpaceX's development of a human-rated Starship vehicle to Blue Origin and Dynetics' lunar lander contracts, these partnerships have helped to advance human space exploration and establish a sustainable presence on the Moon.

The Artemis program represents a momentous step forward in our quest to explore the cosmos. Its impact will be felt for generations to come, and we invite you to be a part of this historic journey.

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Let us embark on this incredible adventure together, and discover what lies beyond the horizon. The future is waiting for us. Are you ready to take the first step?


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