Artemis II: NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) will announce tonight (April 3, 2023), the four astronauts of Artemis II, the first crewed flight test and the second leg of the Artemis Program. The announcement will be made during an event at 11 am EDT (8:30 pm IST) on Monday from the NASA Johnson Space Center's Ellington Field in Houston, NASA says on its website.
As part of Artemis II, the four astronauts will venture around the Moon.
Artemis II will pave the way to establishing a long-term scientific and human presence on the lunar surface.
When and how to watch the announcement online People can also watch the event on NASA's official YouTube channel.
All about Artemis II
Artemis II, the first crewed mission aboard NASA's foundational human deep space capabilities, will be an approximately 10-day mission. NASA's human deep space capabilities include the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, the most powerful rocket in the world, the Orion spacecraft, and the ground systems needed to launch SLS and Orion.
Artemis II will test and stress the life-support systems of Orion to prove the capabilities and techniques required to live and work in deep space in ways only humans can do.
Artemis II crew will include three NASA astronauts and one CSA astronaut. This demonstrates NASA's commitment to international partnerships through the Artemis Program, the agency says.
Artemis I, the first leg of the Artemis Program, successfully launched an uncrewed Orion atop the SLS rocket, on a 1.4 million-mile journey beyond the Moon to test systems before astronauts fly aboard Orion on a mission to the Moon.
Artemis II will pave the way for the first woman and first person of colour on the Moon on Artemis III. Based on Artemis I and II, the Artemis Program will return humans to the lunar surface for long-term exploration and future missions to worlds beyond, including Mars.
In a NASA statement, Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager, said the unique Artemis II mission profile will build upon the uncrewed Artemis I flight test by demonstrating a broad range of SLS and Orion capabilities needed on deep space missions. He added that the mission will prove Orion's critical life support systems are ready to sustain astronauts on longer duration missions ahead and allow the crew to practise operations essential to the success of Artemis III.
Artemis II will launch a crew of four astronauts from Kennedy Space Center aboard the Orion spacecraft atop the SLS rocket. As part of Artemis II, Orion will perform several manoeuvres to raise its orbit around Earth and eventually place the crew on a lunar free return trajectory.
This is a trajectory of a spacecraft travelling away from a particular body, say Earth, in which the spacecraft returns to that body without propulsion. In the case of Artemis II, Orion will be naturally pulled back towards home after flying by the Moon, due to Earth's gravity. Artemis II is planned for launch in May 2024.
Artemis III to take humans back to the Moon
Artemis III is the third leg of the Artemis Program. As part of Artemis III, the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft will carry astronauts into lunar orbit. From there, SpaceX's Human Lander System (HLS) will ferry astronauts to the Moon's icy south pole.
Artemis III will launch no earlier than 2025