|Names||Exploration Mission-3 (2017–19)|
|Mission type||Crewed lunar landing|
|Mission duration||~30 days|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||September 2024 (planned)|
|End of mission|
|Landing site||Pacific Ocean (planned)|
|Landing site||South polar region|
Artemis 3 (officially Artemis III) is the first lunar double launch mission and third planned flight of NASA's Orion spacecraft to be launched on the Space Launch System. Scheduled for launch in September 2024, Artemis 3 is planned to be the second crewed mission of the Artemis program and the first crewed lunar landing since Apollo 17 in 1972.
Artemis 3 will land a crew at the Moon's south polar region. It is planned to have two astronauts on the surface of the Moon for about one week. The mission is intended to be the first to place a woman on the Moon. While up to four astronauts would leave Earth on board Orion, the surface mission with the HLS (Human Landing System - see below) will consist of two crew members, who will remain on the surface for 6.5 days. The remaining astronauts will stay on board the Gateway / Orion orbital complex. The two astronauts will conduct up to four spacewalks on the Moon's surface, performing a variety of scientific observations, including sampling water ice. Before the Artemis 3 landing, some additional equipment will be pre-positioned on the surface, including an unpressurized rover for astronauts to use during their spacewalks. This rover will have the capability to be controlled remotely. Several permanently shadowed regions could be reached by short forays of 5 to 15 km (3.1 to 9.3 mi), well within the range of the unpressurized rover.
In May 2019, NASA selected eleven companies to produce studies of a multi-element landing system that would be staged on the Lunar Gateway previous to the docking of the Artemis 3 crew. These are termed "transfer element" (to low-lunar orbit), the "descent element" to take the crew down to the Moon's surface, and an "ascent element" that would take them back to the Gateway. After Artemis 3, it is intended to make these systems reusable through refueling.
In April 2020, the US companies were selected to develop lunar landers for the Artemis Program. Blue Origin's Integrated Lander Vehicle, Dynetics' ALPACA, and SpaceX's Starship were selected for development.
On 16 April 2021, NASA selected Starship HLS for full development plus two lunar operational flights—one uncrewed and one crewed—no earlier than 2025. The contract is valued at US$2.89 billion over a number of years.
Upon the December 2017 ratification of the Trump administration's Space Policy Directive 1, a crewed lunar campaign – later known as the Artemis program – utilising the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) and a space station in lunar orbit was established. Originally billed as Exploration Mission-3 (EM-3), the goal of the mission was to send four astronauts into a near-rectilinear halo orbit around the Moon and deliver the ESPRIT and U.S. Utilization Module to the lunar space station, known as the Gateway. By May 2019 however, ESPRIT and the U.S. Utilization Module – now called HALO – were re-manifested to fly separately on a commercial launch vehicle instead. Artemis 3, as it was now billed, was repurposed to accelerate the first crewed lunar landing of the Artemis program by the end of 2024, with a profile that would've seen the Orion MPCV rendezvous with a minimal Gateway made up of only the Power and Propulsion Element and a small habitat/docking node with an attached commercially-procured lunar lander known as the Human Landing System.
By early 2020, plans for Orion and the HLS to rendezvous with the Gateway were abandoned in favour of a solo demonstration of Orion and HLS, and development of the Gateway independent of the Artemis program.
MISSION NAMING CONVENTION. While Apollo mission patches used numbers and roman numerals throughout the program, Artemis mission names will use a roman numeral convention.
Under the NASA plan, a mission to land on the moon would take place during the third launch of the Space Launch System. Astronauts, including the first woman to walk on the moon, Mr. Bridenstine said, would first stop at the orbiting lunar outpost. They would then take a lander to the surface near its south pole, where frozen water exists within the craters.
NASA has removed the Lunar Gateway from its "critical path" to return humans to the moon by 2024, according to a SpaceNews report.
...Loverro reiterated previous statements that the Gateway will not be used for the Artemis 3 mission that will attempt to land humans on the moon to "make that mission have a higher probability of success".