NASA’s Pam Melroy Backs the Artemis Architecture Concept Review

Written by staff writer.

NASA has released the outcomes from its first Architecture Concept Review (ARC), which the space agency says reveals the shape and scope of its Artemis and Moon to Mars programs.

“The 2022 Architecture Concept Review details plans for the early human exploration of the Moon’s South Pole. It provides more definition for plans through to Artemis 4 and sets the stage for the first crewed missions to Mars,” NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy said at the 2023 Space Symposium in Colorado this week.

Artemis is NASA’s project to return humans to the Moon and beyond. Artemis 1 launched in November 2022. The Orion spacecraft successfully completed two fly buys of the Moon to test and certify the vehicle and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. In 2024, NASA has scheduled a crewed Artemis 2 launch. The following year, NASA is shooting for a crewed Artemis 3 lunar landing, while Artemis 4 is due to dock with a multi-purpose outpost orbiting the Moon called the lunar gateway in 2028.

The Japanese Space Agency, European Space Agency, and Canadian Space Agency are lead Artemis partner agencies. But 18 other countries, including Australia, and many private spaceflight companies, have signed the Artemis Accords, along with supporting contracts.

“We’re really at a historical pivot point,” said Melroy. “Industry has proven its ability to do things that once were the province of governments, and it’s now extending our space economy from low Earth orbit to cis-lunar space.”

The Deputy Director came to Colorado this week to discuss the next stage of NASA’s Moon to Mars plans and add some detail to objectives that have developed since the program’s implementation in 2017. “Our goal is to create a blueprint for sustained human presence and exploration throughout the solar system,” she said. “We believe this is what the American people expect of us. Humans are a society of wanderers and explorers – it’s in our DNA.”

Behind the PR, the ARC turns out to be a series of highly technical documents, providing what NASA calls a “deep dive” into the Moon to Mars’ design approach and development process. In Colorado, Melroy set out to simplify it for a broader audience. She says the purpose of the ARC is to link current activities to established objectives and goals and to lay out a durable framework regarding the Moon to Mars program that aligns with and feeds into those objectives and goals. She says NASA’s architecture defines the elements, including the hardware and operations, that human missions to the Moon and Mars will need and how it will all work together.

“You can see the shape of what we are building and where a lot of things go, but there is a lot of room for adjustments,” Melroy said. “Our annual concept review process is going to enable stakeholders across NASA and among our partners to work towards those clear exploration goals.”

The Deputy Director also says that six white papers, which are the result of the ARC, provide a “very succinct” description of the current status of the Artemis program. While she says there is a higher level of detail for near-term segments, Melroy also adds that the Artemis missions to the Moon will be a steep learning curve that will reduce risks for the longer-term missions to Mars.


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