NASA could carry a Brit to the moon from 2026


A British man or woman could walk on the moon within the next couple of decades after NASA hinted there would be a future astronaut spot for one of its ‘international partners’. 

US space agency bosses, including administrator Bill Nelson, are currently in Britain holding talks with their UK counterparts over the country’s involvement in NASA’s Artemis lunar missions.

UK companies are helping to build the service and habitation modules for the planned Lunar Gateway space station, which will orbit the moon and serve as an ‘outpost’ for astronauts when humans return to the lunar surface later this decade.

Nelson said the first two astronauts to return to the moon in 2025 would be American, and would include ‘the first woman and likely the next man’ to walk on the lunar surface.

They would become the first humans to do so in more than 50 years.

Excitement: A British man or woman could walk on the moon within the next couple of decades after NASA hinted there would be a future astronaut spot for one of its ‘international partners’. Pictured is Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969 

UK firms are helping to build the planned Lunar Gateway station (shown in artist's impression)

UK firms are helping to build the planned Lunar Gateway station (shown in artist’s impression) 

Flying the flag: There have been seven UK-born astronauts who have travelled to space, including Tim Peake in 2015 and the first Briton to do so, Helen Sharman (pictured left), in 1991

Flying the flag: There have been seven UK-born astronauts who have travelled to space, including Tim Peake in 2015 and the first Briton to do so, Helen Sharman (pictured left), in 1991 

US space agency bosses, including administrator Bill Nelson and his deputy Pamela Melroy (both centre above), are currently in Britain holding talks with their UK counterparts over the country's involvement in NASA's Artemis lunar missions

US space agency bosses, including administrator Bill Nelson and his deputy Pamela Melroy (both centre above), are currently in Britain holding talks with their UK counterparts over the country’s involvement in NASA’s Artemis lunar missions

LUNAR GATEWAY: A SPACE STATION AROUND THE MOON 

International space-faring countries involved in the International Space Station have their sights set on the moon for the next space station.

The NASA-led project will see the Lunar Gateway built in orbit around the moon as part of the Artemis mission.

International space-faring countries involved in the International Space Station have their sights set on the Moon for the next space station.

International space-faring countries involved in the International Space Station have their sights set on the Moon for the next space station. 

The agreement, signed in September 2017, is part of a long-term project to send humans to Mars.

The crew-tended spaceport will orbit the moon and serve as a ‘gateway to deep space and the lunar surface,’ NASA has said.

The first modules of the station could be completed as soon as 2026.

Europe, Japan and Russia are also involved in the Gateway.

The European Space Agency will build its own service and habitation modules with help from UK companies.

Nelson’s deputy Pamela Melroy also went on to add that there would later be a space on a future mission for an astronaut from one of NASA’s partners.

She said: ‘I feel very confident we’ll have an international partner because they’re contributing to building Gateway… but we haven’t sorted out yet when they will go to the surface.’

Currently, Tim Peake — who spent six months on the International Space Station from 2015-2016 — is the only Briton on the European Space Agency’s (ESA) astronaut roster.

However, it is understood that several UK hopefuls have made it through to the final selection stages for the next batch of ESA astronauts, set to be revealed this year.

Nelson and Melroy met Paul Bate, the UK Space Agency’s chief executive, at the Farnborough International Airshow this week. 

Bate said it was an honour to welcome the two NASA bosses and added that there would be ‘further opportunities [for UK involvement] as the programme comes to life’.

NASA’s ambitious Artemis project plans a lunar base by the end of this decade, along with the Gateway station which is set to be built between the first and second crewed landings, from 2026.

The orbiting lab will have a four person capacity and will see NASA work with some existing International Space Station partners including Europe, Japan and Canada. 

Large parts of the station will be built by commercial partners and will have a docking port for the SpaceX Starship lunar lander that will ferry astronauts between the orbiting base and the surface of the moon. 

Lunar Gateway forms a core part of the Artemis missions, which will see NASA land the first woman and first astronaut of colour on the moon.  

Later this year, the US space agency plans to send manikins to space as part of the Artemis I mission.

NASA's Artemis project plans a lunar base by the end of this decade, along with the Gateway station which is set to be built between the first and second crewed landings, from 2026

NASA’s Artemis project plans a lunar base by the end of this decade, along with the Gateway station which is set to be built between the first and second crewed landings, from 2026 

The orbiting Gateway lab will have a four person capacity and will see NASA work with some existing International Space Station partners including Europe, Japan and Canada

The orbiting Gateway lab will have a four person capacity and will see NASA work with some existing International Space Station partners including Europe, Japan and Canada

Currently, Tim Peake (pictured) — who spent six months on the International Space Station from 2015-2016 — is the only Briton on the European Space Agency's (ESA) astronaut roster

Currently, Tim Peake (pictured) — who spent six months on the International Space Station from 2015-2016 — is the only Briton on the European Space Agency’s (ESA) astronaut roster 

It is planning to discuss the next steps for this at a teleconference from 16:00 BST (11:00 ET), on what is the 53rd anniversary of Neil Armstrong becoming the first man to walk on the moon. 

Artemis I will pave the way for crewed flights — Artemis II, which will launch in May 2024 and fly by the moon without landing on it, and Artemis III, which will actually touch down on the lunar surface. 

Artemis III, which will launch ‘no earlier than 2025’, will be the first to land humans on the moon in more than 50 years, since Apollo 17 in December 1972.

All 12 people who have so far set foot on the moon are American men. There have been seven UK-born astronauts who have travelled to space, including Peake in 2015 and the first Briton to do so, Helen Sharman, in 1991.

NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the moon in 2025 as part of the Artemis mission

Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the moon in Greek mythology. 

NASA has chosen her to personify its path back to the moon, which will see astronauts return to the lunar surface by 2025 –  including the first woman and the next man.

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the moon and Mars. 

Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  

Artemis 1 will be an uncrewed flight that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the moon and beyond. 

During this flight, the spacecraft will launch on the most powerful rocket in the world and fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown.

It will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the moon over the course of about a three-week mission. 

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the moon and Mars. This graphic explains the various stages of the mission

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the moon and Mars. This graphic explains the various stages of the mission

Orion will stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before. 

With this first exploration mission, NASA is leading the next steps of human exploration into deep space where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems near the moon needed for lunar surface missions and exploration to other destinations farther from Earth, including Mars. 

The will take crew on a different trajectory and test Orion’s critical systems with humans aboard. 

Together, Orion, SLS and the ground systems at Kennedy will be able to meet the most challenging crew and cargo mission needs in deep space.

Eventually NASA seeks to establish a sustainable human presence on the moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.

The space agency hopes this colony will uncover new scientific discoveries, demonstrate new technological advancements and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy. 

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