Fifty years after the last Apollo astronauts set foot on the Moon, NASA is on its way back.
orion spacecraft Now underway on a 1.3 million mile test flight that will put it in lunar orbit.
Two years later, there will be a manned mission around the moon, and soon humans will land on the surface of the moon.
‘Entering the history books’ – keeping up with Artemis 1’s launch
The Artemis scheme will cost US taxpayers $93bn (£78bn), so there is an obvious question of value for money, especially in cost of living crisis.
NASA makes a good case for cash.
First, there is science. The Moon is a time capsule, undisturbed by the geological processes that shaped Earth. It provides clues not only about its own origin, but also about the history of the solar system.
Artemis will also allow explorers to test the kit they need to survive on another world.
In their lunar base camp, they’ll need to grow their own food, find water, and use it to make oxygen and fuel — before heading to Mars.
But there is also geopolitics.
China has ambitions to send its own astronauts into space, and the US wants to get there first, as it did in the space race with the Soviet Union.
There is also a more philosophical reason for the relative safety of beyond Earth orbit.
Photos from the Apollo missions show Earth as a small blue marble against a solid black space curtain. They made us realize how fragile our planet is and helped give birth to the environmental movement.
Robotic space missions are cheaper and safer, but humans are still more capable.
There is something to be said for exploring new territories through human eyes.
Artemis will inspire a new generation.