US Space Agency NASA has announced plans for the start of uncrewed flights around the Moon in 2020.
The plan will see the Orion capsule launched using NASA’s Space Launch System in February 2022 – the first step for the agencies plans to establish regular human missions to the moon.
The missions will eventually see astronauts set foot on Earth’s satellite for the first time since 1972 and marks the final phase of testing for the Artemis program.
Once NASA is confident in the technology supporting the uncrewed flights, it will continue on to more complex moon missions which will see astronauts return to the lunar surface.
Before the launch in 2022 NASA will run a series of tests on the rocket and capsules technology to ensure that its interface and comms systems work correctly, with a full dress rehearsal of the launch expected in December or January.
NASA secures its Orion capsule to its 322ft at the Kennedy Space Center
This week the first step of this testing saw NASA securing its Orion capsule to its 322ft Space Launch System at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
In total, only 12 men walked have walked on the Moon during the Apollo program between 1969 and 1972 before the USA abandoned it in favour of regular shuttle flights and the development of the international space station.
The mission – Artemis 1 – is the first of the Artemis program a United States-led effort to reestablish a long term international human spaceflight program with its primary goal of returning humans to the Moon by 2024.