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NASA Identifies Candidate Regions For Landing Next Americans On Moon

nasa jun31 22aug22 lt

As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the Moon under Artemis mission, the U.S space agency has identified 13 candidate landing regions near the lunar South Pole. Each region contains multiple potential landing sites for Artemis III, which will be the first of the Artemis missions to bring crew to the lunar surface, including the first woman to set foot on the Moon.

"Selecting these regions means we are one giant leap closer to returning humans to the Moon for the first time since Apollo," said Mark Kirasich, deputy associate administrator for the Artemis Campaign Development Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "When we do, it will be unlike any mission that's come before as astronauts venture into dark areas previously unexplored by humans and lay the groundwork for future long-term stays," he added.

Each of the candidate regions for lunar landing is located within six degrees of latitude of the lunar South Pole and, collectively, contain diverse geologic features. Together, the regions provide landing options for all potential Artemis III launch opportunities. Specific landing sites are tightly coupled to the timing of the launch window, so multiple regions ensure flexibility to launch throughout the year, NASA said in a press release.

NASA will discuss the 13 regions with broader science and engineering communities through conferences and workshops to solicit input about the merits of each region. This feedback will inform site selections in the future, and NASA may identify additional regions for consideration. The agency will also continue to work with SpaceX to confirm Starship's landing capabilities and assess the options accordingly.

NASA will select sites within regions for Artemis III after it identifies the mission's target launch dates, which dictate transfer trajectories and surface environment conditions.

Through multiple Artemis missions, NASA aims to land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term, sustainable lunar presence and serving as a steppingstone for future astronaut missions to Mars.

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