Washington: NASA’s Orion crew capsule is ready for its first unmanned trip to Moon, US Vice President Mike Pence has announced marking the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon landing. “Thanks to the hard work of the men and women of NASA, and of American industry, the Orion crew vehicle for the Artemis 1 mission is complete and ready to begin preparations for its historic first flight,” Pence said on Saturday at the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. US President Donald Trump’s administration directed NASA to return humans to the Moon by 2024 and then go forward to Mars. NASA has named this programme “Artemis” in honour of Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology, the goddess of the Moon.
NASA’s goal 50 years ago was to prove the agency could land humans on the Moon and return them safely to Earth. The goal now is to return to the Moon in a sustainable way to prepare for the next giant leap - sending astronauts to Mars for the first time ever. Artemis 1 will launch NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket around the Moon to test the system and pave the way for landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon in five years, as well as future missions to Mars, the US space agency said. (IANS)