It does not appear that Trump's promise that humans would return from the Moon by 2024 is true, even though he was once President of the United States. Philippe Deloo (head of the European Space Agency’s Orion project), stated that it won't happen before 2025. He also said that it would most likely occur in 2026. However, I don't have a crystal ball so I can't be certain." The briefing was organized by ESA and international media to clear up any doubts regarding the European contribution to Artemis. This is NASA's new program for manned flights to Moon.
ESA is providing the service module, which will supply air, electricity, and propulsion for the manned Orion spacecraft on its journey to and from the Moon. It will also be used to propel it back to Earth where it will crash into the Pacific Ocean. Orion's 130-ton, 111-meter high rocket will launch from the International Space Station. It is the biggest rocket ever built and the only one that can send a manned spacecraft to the satellite.
Didier Radola and Deloo, who are responsible for Airbus Orion, indicated that the European contribution to the program will be primarily technical and lead by Germany and Italy. Radola explained that Spain's colleagues provide the thermal control unit and France handles aspects like the pressure tank and review of vehicle qualification. Yes, we will see European astronauts. But, we'll have to wait. Deloo stated that although it is an agreement with NASA, it will be implemented in the medium-term.
Artemis 1 is one of three missions in the new program for manned flights to Moon. This project aims to be the prelude of taking humans to Mars. "The space race between Russia and the United States was the reason we last walked on the Moon. It was important to first set foot on the Moon. We are returning to the Moon to prove that we can and to also explore its resources. "Said Deloo.
The Orion capsule will be empty on the first flight. It will orbit the satellite for four to six weeks and reach the surface within 100 km. NASA will determine a launch date once it has reviewed the rocket's fueling, countdown rehearsal, and dumping tests that are currently taking place on pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center.
ESA and Airbus representatives also confirmed that the conflict in Ukraine had not affected the Artemis 1 mission. "NASA, ESA, and Airbus did not depend on Russian and Ukrainian services." Deloo stated that Russia had offered some materials in the lunar program. But, not in the immediate future. So we have plenty of time to search for other options."