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NASA unveils plans for astronauts to return to Moon by 2024

NASA visitor's center. (Pixabay/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

NASA has said its first new mission to the moon in decades will take place in 2020, with a landing of astronauts scheduled four years later.

The U.S. space agency unveiled the timetable for its so-called Artemis program on May 23.

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said the first phase of the program would feature an unmanned probe being launched in 2020, and would be called Artemis 1.

The following missions would come in 2022, with a manned capsule to orbit the moon, followed by a mission to put astronauts on the surface in 2024. That crew will include the first woman to visit the moon.

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The name “Artemis” comes from Greek mythology: she was the goddess of hunting and the moon and also was the sister of the god Apollo, for whom the original NASA moon missions in the late 1960s and 1970s were named.

Aside from the NASA-led missions, five more launches were also scheduled between 2022 and 2024, to carry construction equipment for a lunar ministation called Gateway.

Those will be conducted by private space companies, under contract from NASA.