Looking up at the moon on a clear night, it’s hard to imagine that humans have stepped foot on that bright, glowing surface! It’s been almost half a century since we last visited our nearest celestial neighbor. Now, the astronauts who will return in 2024 are preparing to take on their mission, and bringing us all along with them!
The last time humans were on the moon was in 1972, when “American Pie”, “Lean on Me”, and “Rockin’ Robin” were top hits on the radio. A lot has changed in the world of technology since then—those first computers on that Apollo mission had less computing power than your microwave, and were woven by hand! 1
It’s been almost half a century since we’ve stepped foot on the moon. And now, the Artemis mission will put us on the moon with a new, far grander plan for humanity and our mission to explore the cosmos!
Why go to the moon again after all these years?
Well, there’s a few reasons. Since our first trip to the moon, our technology and understanding of our lunar friend has changed drastically. In these past 47 years, we have been surveying the moon’s surface with a wide range of technologies to understand it better. We have discovered water (in the form of ice), uncovered new regions to explore, and are seeing the moon as a waypoint to exploration to our next neighbor, Mars!
Before we meet the impressive crew who will be doing all of the exploring, let’s see why their mission is such an incredible achievement. Here’s a quick video from NASA to introduce us to the remarkable scale and the feats of engineering and human ingenuity that will go into Artemis!
To learn more about the Artemis mission through NASA, check out the Artemis page where you can dive in even deeper!
The moon and us!
“We always sit outside and we love to look at the stars and look at the moon, but now I think both of us look at it with a little different light in our eyes and a little different twinkle, knowing that someday, soon, we’re gonna be back there on the moon.”
—Astronaut Nicole Mann
So, who are the people who will be the first to return to the moon? What kind of training will they need? What drives them? And what do their kids think of this?
Well, it turns out that the answers to those questions are as inspiring as the mission itself! 18 astronauts have been selected to train for the Artemis mission. Each one has a different spirit that drives them to complete this intense training. For some, being an astronaut is all they wanted to do in the world since they were little. For others, it is their “second climb.”
In this next video, you’ll hear from three of these astronauts, including, perhaps, the first woman to walk on the moon! Here are astronauts Nicole Mann, Frank Rubio, and Jessica Meir with their answers to some of your most pressing questions about what this remarkable mission means to them!
Special thanks to National Geographic for this video! If you’d like to see more from National Geographic—including some great space exploration content—check out their YouTube channel!
“When we do hard things and we challenge ourselves… it brings us together.”
—Astronaut Frank Rubio
Though you and I may not be on this next mission to the moon, these enormous missions to new worlds do have a ripple effect on us all.
The technology and innovation that they require, and the people who are chosen to go on the missions themselves, inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers. The young minds who see Artemis may not all grow up to become astronauts themselves, but they will have a love for science and technology that could lead them to be the next great innovators.
If you want a great read about another space pioneer and her perspective on space exploration, check out this piece about astronaut Mae Jemison!
Every time we see a new horizon, we walk towards it.
This insatiable desire to feed our curiosity has led us to our greatest leaps as humans, bringing our species all over the globe, finding cures to our most detrimental diseases, and developing newer, better tools to help us live better lives.
If you want a glimpse at just one of these remarkable innovations, check out this article about the scientists who have figured out how to use asparagus to treat spinal cord injuries!
These missions beyond Earth are the ultimate manifestation of all of this. Yes, there are many issues for us to focus on solving down here, but in order for the people who are helping to solve those tough problems to be successful, we need a few people to be focused on pushing us further than we think is possible. Without them bringing us to new worlds, our sense of what we’re able to do shrinks. Without them, we risk stagnating our potential.
Space exploration reminds us that we are capable of the most “impossible” things on a grand scale.
It reminds us that collaboration with other people is possible, grounding us in our shared humanity. The trips we take outside of our planet help us understand that we are just a small part of a vast, vast universe. And it’s these humbling experiences that we will need if we want to work together, down here on Earth, for a better shared future.
Stay beautiful & keep laughing!
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- Fishman, Charles. “The Amazing Handmade Tech That Powered Apollo 11’s Moon Voyage.” HISTORY, HISTORY, 17 July 2019, www.history.com/news/moon-landing-technology-inventions-computers-heat-shield-rovers. Accessed 22 Dec. 2020. ↩
- NASA. “We Are Going.” YouTube, 14 May 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=vl6jn-DdafM&feature=emb_title. Accessed 17 Dec. 2020. ↩
- National Geographic. “Astronauts Training for Moon Missions | National Geographic.” YouTube, 10 Dec. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=i–cpm9aZY8&feature=emb_title. Accessed 17 Dec. 2020. ↩