Nebraska astronaut says Artemis mission is key to humans on Mars

The Artemis missions aim to get humans back on the moon for the first time in 50 years.
Nebraska's own astronaut, Clayton Anderson, says the upcoming Artemis missions are critical in getting man back on the moon.
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 4:43 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As the Crew-6 mission now gears up for Thursday’s launch, Nebraska astronaut Clayton Anderson tells 6 News this mission will hopefully get us one step closer to eventually landing on Mars, but Anderson says it starts with going back to the moon.

“To me going back to the moon is the right answer,” Anderson said. “We know we all want to go to Mars. That is the ultimate destination with humans, but there’s so much we have to learn and so much we have to develop. The technology that is required to do that, that I think going to the moon is the right answer.”

Heading back to Earth’s only natural satellite is something NASA and three international partner agencies are hoping to accomplish through the Artemis program -- a program that intends to reestablish a human presence on the moon for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

“I think the fact that Artemis I was so successful is a big boon to NASA and the folks that are putting that together,” Anderson said. “We’ll be able to move ahead on the milestones we need to be able to carry off Artemis II and if that goes well, then we’ll prep for Artemis III.”

Artemis I successfully placed the Orion spacecraft into lunar orbit and returned to Earth in 2022. Artemis II is the planned first crewed test flight to the moon and back, scheduled for launch in 2024; Artemis III is the planned first crewed lunar landing, planned for launch in 2025.

And although the timeline may not be fast enough for those eager to get to Mars, Anderson says there’s a reason these Artemis missions are so spaced out.

“To start to plan, to start to develop, to test and figure out what works and what doesn’t work, before we spend all that money and time to try and send humans to Mars, so I think we’re on the right path,” Anderson said. “I would be hugely excited to be back in the astronaut core, competing for a shot to put my foot on the moon.”

Anderson says the “entire nation should be energized by the possibility” that humans are once again returning to the moon.

He says another moon landing is also very important internationally, as scientists from across the globe are working to eventually get people on Mars.