NASA plans a return to the Moon by 2024 as a part of its Artemis program. The ESA is also on a similar frequency and it is planning the Heracles mission to survey the moon’s surface before astronauts land there. This is a joint European-Canadian-Japanese mission and will have a robotic rover. It will obtain samples of rock and soil from the alien surface and send them back for analysis to Earth. This mission will also help NASA by conducting an advanced survey of the lunar terrain before astronauts land.

Space reports that the tentative schedule of the Heracles mission is in the 2020s.

The rover will land on the moon inside a small lander. Astronauts who will be in NASA’s planned space station Gateway would monitor its movements. Gateway will be the platform that would orbit the moon and astronauts and robots would use it to gain easy access to the lunar surface. ESA says the rover will examine the terrain, collect samples, move them to the lander and subsequently to the Gateway.

Moon is gaining importance

This is the 50th year of man’s landing on the moon and NASA plans to revisit it in 2024. Lunar missions have attracted other countries also.

There is an urgency to send humans to other planets and this is gradually becoming evident. America has always been in the forefront and sent the first man to the moon. It now wants to send a woman there as a part of the Artemis program. The Heracles mission, a joint European-Canadian-Japanese affair, has stepped in to extend assistance.

Space adds that the testing of the Heracles mission will be by 2020 before NASA sends its astronauts there in 2024.

One of them will be a woman. That will be as per directives of President Donald Trump's administration. The ultimate goal of Heracles would be to collect and return lunar samples to Earth via NASA’s Artemis program.

The first female moonwalker

According to NBC News, NASA unveiled the Artemis program in mid-May. It will send humans once again to the lunar surface in 2024 and will present the first female moonwalker. The preparatory activities will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon in 1969. At that time, the two moonwalkers were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. The American space agency has drawn up plans and work is progressing on various aspects to meet the timelines.

NASA had to suspend work related to the moon mission after funding for such missions dried up. It diverted its attention to other projects in Earth's orbit like the space shuttle and the International Space Station. The agency is now building the 322-foot-tall SLS rocket for the Artemis program. The plan was for 2028 but was revised to 2024 because Vice President Mike Pence said 2028 was "just not good enough" and ordered NASA to speed things up to 2024.