Humans have to wait longer to land on the Moon again as Coronavirus shuts down Artemis
- It’s been nearly five decades since humans have visited the Moon.
- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Artemis is humanity’s glorious return pegged to launch in 2024.
- However, the base where the rocket and capsule for the mission were being tested and produced has been forced to shut down due to rising cases of Coronavirus in the country.
The delay could mean that NASA will miss its 2024 deadline, which many experts felt was overly ambitious to begin with — but marked humanity’s return to the lunar surface after nearly five decades. The last crewed Apollo Mission was on 7 December 1972.
"The change at Stennis [Space Centre] was made due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community around the center, the number of self-isolation cases within our workforce there, and one confirmed case among our Stennis team," said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
All the hardware and components will be safely tucked away until it’s safe for people to return to work. This means that not only has production been halted, but testing has also been suspended until further notice.
Setting up a base on the Moon
Visiting the Moon this time wasn’t just about exploring the lunar surface, but about setting up a human base. It would allow humans to explore other planets, without having to carry the entire fuel supply from Earth.
Dubbed Lunar Gateway, it won’t actually be on the Moon but in orbit around the planet’s natural satellite. According to NASA, it would take astronauts only five days to make the journey.
The massive spacecraft will be smaller than the International Space Station with living quarters, labs for research, and docking ports for visitors. From the Lunar Gateway, astronauts could lead expeditions onto the Moon or future human missions that head out to Mars.
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