NASA is leaving no stone unturned to keep its 2024 date with the moon by throwing open its doors for private contractors to submit proposals for developing a lander that can carry humans and also a descent craft which can bypass the Gateway in lunar orbit in its first landing attempt. The Human Landing System is very important to the Trump administration as it has a target to send humans to moon’s surface by end of 2024. The mission named Artemis started in earnest after Vice President Mike Pence announced in a speech during March that 2024 is the deadline for sending humans to moon again by United States.
To speed up the process NASA has relaxed requirements for early human-rated landers. It wants to have reusable landers on missions that will ferry astronauts between moon and Gateway space station in lunar orbit where the spacecraft can be refueled for making multiple landings. NASA has given contractors time till Nov 1st to submit their proposals. Lander program manager Lisa Watson-Morgan at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama stated that they have streamlined all action to ensure that lander gets to the moon’s surface by 2024.
There is little time to waste, so NASA is not likely to have any unmanned trial demonstrations before sending humans onboard the lander to the moon. But its Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel has warned it against such steps as they feel that sending a Human Landing System (HLS) to the moon with humans without carrying out an unscrewed test can be very risky. NASA’s Artemis program has several interesting elements for its first moon lander mission that will attempt to make a landing close to moon’s south-pole. Before that it will make two components of a mini-space station to be placed in lunar orbit which will be launched in 2022 and 2023 that will generate its own electricity and provide propulsion along with temporary habitat for astronauts.