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Where exactly will astronauts land on the moon? NASA will tell us today

Orlando Sentinel logoOrlando Sentinel 8/19/2022 Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel
A photographer is dwarfed by the crawler-transporter 2 carrying the Artemis I rocket as it rolls out from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center on its overnight trip to Launch Pad 39-B on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2022. © Richard Tribou/Orlando Sentinel/TNS A photographer is dwarfed by the crawler-transporter 2 carrying the Artemis I rocket as it rolls out from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center on its overnight trip to Launch Pad 39-B on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2022.

With NASA’s first Artemis mission to the moon set to launch before the end of the month, teams are gearing up for future missions with astronauts including just exactly where the next people to set foot on the moon will be leaving their footprints.

NASA astronaut Stanley Love talks with reporters with the Artemis I rocket rolling out from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center on its overnight trip to Launch Pad 39-B on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2022. © Richard Tribou/Orlando Sentinel/TNS NASA astronaut Stanley Love talks with reporters with the Artemis I rocket rolling out from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center on its overnight trip to Launch Pad 39-B on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2022.

NASA has announced a press conference for 2 p.m. today to reveal potential landing locations for the Artemis III mission, which is still targeting a launch in 2025, but not before the uncrewed Artemis I flight slated to launch on Aug. 29 and a crewed Artemis II flight in 2024 that will send humans back to the moon, but only to orbit it.

The Artemis I rocket leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022 on its way to Launch Pad 39-B. © Richard Tribou/Orlando Sentinel/TNS The Artemis I rocket leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022 on its way to Launch Pad 39-B.

Artemis III would mark humans’ return to the surface for the first time since Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt left the surface on Dec. 14, 1972.

Crowds get up close as the Artemis I rocket rolls out from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center on its overnight trip to Launch Pad 39-B on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2022. © Richard Tribou/Orlando Sentinel/TNS Crowds get up close as the Artemis I rocket rolls out from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center on its overnight trip to Launch Pad 39-B on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2022.

The Apollo program managed six landings with two humans each for a total of 12 to walk on the moon between 1969-1972.

A shadow from the Artemis I rocket is cast on the walls of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center as it rolls away on its overnight trip to Launch Pad 39-B on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2022. © Richard Tribou/Orlando Sentinel/TNS A shadow from the Artemis I rocket is cast on the walls of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center as it rolls away on its overnight trip to Launch Pad 39-B on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2022.

Artemis III is also aiming to send two humans including the first woman on the moon. That mission is waiting on a Human Landing System from SpaceX using a modified version of its in-development Starship. Future Artemis missions could continue to use the Starship version of HLS or another design by a SpaceX competitor to be determined under a new contract.

A shadow from the Artemis I rocket is cast on the walls of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center as it rolls away on its overnight trip to Launch Pad 39-B on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2022. © Richard Tribou/Orlando Sentinel/TNS A shadow from the Artemis I rocket is cast on the walls of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center as it rolls away on its overnight trip to Launch Pad 39-B on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2022.

In addition to the six human landings, there have been 16 successful soft robotic landings. Several more impact probes, designed to fly right into the moon, have also “landed” on the surface. Most of these have been near the moon’s equator, and most took place from 1966-1976 by either the U.S. or Soviet Union. It was not until 2013 that a lander returned to the moon, this time by China, which has since had two more successful soft landings including the first on the far side of the moon.

Artemis I, including the Orion spacecraft, shortly before rollout to the launch pad —as seen from the high bay level inside the Vehicle Assembly Building— at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Tuesday, August 16, 2022. Artemis I is scheduled to launch on an unmanned mission to orbit the moon on August 29. © Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS Artemis I, including the Orion spacecraft, shortly before rollout to the launch pad —as seen from the high bay level inside the Vehicle Assembly Building— at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Tuesday, August 16, 2022. Artemis I is scheduled to launch on an unmanned mission to orbit the moon on August 29.

For Artemis III, the landing site will be one of several potential options in the moon’s south pole in NASA’s effort to find ice, which could be converted into air to breathe and fuel to burn as part of any plans for long-term lunar settlement.

Artemis I, including the Orion spacecraft, shortly before rollout to the launch pad —as seen from the high bay level inside the Vehicle Assembly Building— at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Launch Complex 39, Tuesday, August 16, 2022. Artemis I is scheduled to launch on an unmanned mission to orbit the moon on August 29. © Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS Artemis I, including the Orion spacecraft, shortly before rollout to the launch pad —as seen from the high bay level inside the Vehicle Assembly Building— at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Launch Complex 39, Tuesday, August 16, 2022. Artemis I is scheduled to launch on an unmanned mission to orbit the moon on August 29.

“Within each region, there are several potential landing sites,” reads a statement from NASA. “Each of the selected regions, from which specific landing sites could be selected, is of scientific interest and was evaluated based on terrain, communications, and lighting conditions, as well as ability to meet science objectives.”

Remote cameras in position to capture the rollout of Artemis I —as seen from the high bay level inside the Vehicle Assembly Building— at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Tuesday, August 16, 2022. Artemis I is scheduled to launch on an unmanned mission to orbit the moon on August 29.  (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel © Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS Remote cameras in position to capture the rollout of Artemis I —as seen from the high bay level inside the Vehicle Assembly Building— at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Tuesday, August 16, 2022. Artemis I is scheduled to launch on an unmanned mission to orbit the moon on August 29. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel

The live stream of the announcement briefing can be seen on NASA’s website.

Artemis I, including the Orion spacecraft, shortly before rollout to the launch pad —as seen from the high bay level inside the Vehicle Assembly Building— at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Tuesday, August 16, 2022. Artemis I is scheduled to launch on an unmanned mission to orbit the moon on August 29. © Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS Artemis I, including the Orion spacecraft, shortly before rollout to the launch pad —as seen from the high bay level inside the Vehicle Assembly Building— at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Tuesday, August 16, 2022. Artemis I is scheduled to launch on an unmanned mission to orbit the moon on August 29.

Follow Orlando Sentinel space coverage at Facebook.com/goforlaunchsentinel.

Artemis I leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building as it rolls out to launch pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Tuesday, August 16, 2022. The rocket is scheduled to launch on an unmanned mission to orbit the moon on August 29. © Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS Artemis I leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building as it rolls out to launch pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Tuesday, August 16, 2022. The rocket is scheduled to launch on an unmanned mission to orbit the moon on August 29.

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Artemis I leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building as it rolls out to launch pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Tuesday, August 16, 2022. The rocket is scheduled to launch on an unmanned mission to orbit the moon on August 29.

Artemis I leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building as it rolls out to launch pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Tuesday, August 16, 2022. The rocket is scheduled to launch on an unmanned mission to orbit the moon on August 29.
© Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS
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