Everyone born after the year 2000 has always known a world where people have been living in space. In this decade, we will all see humans walking on the Moon again. It has been almost 50 years since astronauts last walked on the lunar surface during the Apollo program and since then, the robotic exploration of deep space has seen decades of technological advancement.

Now, America enters a new era of exploration. With the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft, NASA has the foundation needed to land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface. This will be the first chance for most people alive today to witness a human lunar encounter and landing.

The Moon is the gateway to the solar system. It is the best place to test deep space systems and operations in preparation for the first human mission to Mars. Over the next decade, the Artemis program will lay the foundation for a sustained, long-term presence on the lunar surface and use the Moon to validate systems and operations before embarking on the voyage to Mars.

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This article first appeared in the November, 2021 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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