Following the successful launch of NASA’s Artemis 1, we look at the history behind the space programme and why we are proud to share our name with this special mission that’s been in the making for more than a decade.
It’s been 50 years since humans visited the moon and NASA’s last mission, Apollo 17, returned to earth. Since then, funding cuts and the huge financial investment required to get to the moon hindered any future missions – until 2012, when NASA started its Artemis Programme and began preparing Artemis 1 for launch.
What does the name Artemis mean?
To have a true understanding of why NASA named their latest space programme Artemis, we need to take a step back in time to the mythical world of Ancient Greek gods and goddesses.
Artemis was one of the key female figures of the Greek pantheon, and the ancient virgin goddess of hunting, the wilderness, wild animals and nature. She was also heavily identified with the moon – hence NASA’s choice of name for its latest moon-orbiting mission.
NASA didn’t just choose Artemis for her connections to the moon though. In Greek mythology, Artemis is also the twin sister of Apollo – the name NASA gave to its high-profile multi-billion-dollar project that resulted in Apollo 11 successfully landing on the moon in 1969.
Why did humans want to go to the moon?
Following the start of the Cold War in the late 1940s, geopolitical tensions between the United States and the then Soviet Union started to intensify during the ‘50s and ‘60s, resulting in fierce rivalry between the two nations and a struggle for global dominance, including technological superiority.
In 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first Soviet Sputnik satellite and by 1961 they had sent the first ever man into space. Threatened by this development, the US responded by starting a space race and, in 1962, President John F Kennedy made his famous speech to the nation promising to get to the moon by the end of the decade.
Despite Apollo 11’s successful landing on the moon in 1969, which was televised to an audience of millions around the world, the programme wasn’t a catalyst for a new era of lunar exploration, and it ended with Apollo 17’s mission in 1972 – subsequent Apollo missions were cancelled.
Limited resources meant NASA would not attempt to return to the moon for another 40 years, when it heralded in its ‘Artemis Generation’ – one focused on scientific discovery, economic benefits and inspiring young explorers.
In the words of NASA: the moon is a treasure trove of opportunities for discovering more about our own planet, our sun, and our solar system.
Why did NASA establish the Artemis Programme?
In 2012, NASA started Artemis 1, formerly known as Exploration Mission-1, and planned to launch it in 2017. Financial and technical difficulties meant this launch date was delayed by five years. The programme’s aim is to establish a sustainable human presence on and around the moon by the end of the 2020s.
The proposed Artemis Base Camp that will be built on the surface of the moon along with The Gateway, which serves as a multi-purpose outlet orbiting the moon, will allow NASA’s robots and astronauts to explore and conduct scientific research.
Artemis 1’s mission is scheduled to last for six weeks and will cover 1.3 million miles. As an uncrewed flight, Artemis 1’s primary purpose will be testing the rocket stages and spacecraft that will be used for later Artemis missions.
Celebrating the Artemis generation
As advocates of everything aerospace, we are delighted to be celebrating the launch of Artemis 1. We are proud to share a name with an inspiring project that aims to create a new world of positive difference for the next generation.
When our founders, Jim and Deborah Scott, started Artemis Aerospace in 1999 it was no coincidence that they chose a name that represented everything the business aspired to be and stood for: striving for a service that reaches far beyond any customer’s expectation and will keep going on a journey of discovery and positive improvement without limitations.
Although NASA’s project has popularised the name Artemis, in the late ‘90s it was not well known, and, in an industry that was littered with standardised company titles, Artemis Aerospace stood out as a memorable and stylish choice that resonated with our company’s true values and identity.
Much like NASA’s mission statement ‘our success will change the world’, here at Artemis Aerospace, we firmly sit alongside and support that ideology with our own assertion that, no matter what our customers need or how complex the project might be, we always find a way.