I grew up as a devoted space nerd and model rocketeer, but years ago, I lost most of my interest in crewed space. After covering government and commercial space in the 80s and 90s, going to countless space development conferences and press events, I eventually lost hope that the advances I dreamed of as a teen and young adult would ever come to fruition, at least in my lifetime. And, my priorities changed. My idea of a proper astronaut is now a robot.
So, with that, I've not paid too much attention to the Artemis program. It seems like it's been an agonizing timeline with lots of political wrangling, budgetary setbacks, differing views of the program and its goals. And countless launch delays.
But now that Atemis 1 is on the pad, currently slated for launch on Monday, I figured I should learn more about the rocket and its mission. I was surprised to hear just how much recycled Space Shuttle hardware is on this rocket.
At the close of the Apollo 17 mission, the last of the program, on the third and final EVA, Gene Cernan made something of closing remarks, saying that he was taking man's last steps on the surface for a while, but that he was confident that we would return "not too long into the future." We didn't.
Is Atremis 1 really the first steps in that return? Who knows, given its many fumbles and stumbles and always-shifting government priorities. As it is, we'll still have to wait until 2025 at the the earliest for the first human landing — 50 years after the last trip.