The Lunacy of Artemis

A deep-dive into the clusterfuck that appears to be NASA’s plans to put people on the moon again.

But where Apollo 17 launched on a single rocket and cost $3.3 billion (in 2023 dollars), the first Artemis landing involves a dozen or two heavy rocket launches and costs so much that NASA refuses to give a figure. The single-use lander for the mission will be the heaviest spacecraft ever flown, and yet the mission’s scientific return — a small box of rocks — is less than what came home on Apollo 17. And the whole plan hinges on technologies that haven’t been invented yet becoming reliable and practical within the next eighteen months.

The most jaw-dropping part was the earth-orbit refuelling plan which requires sending fuel up in up to 20 separate heavy rocket launches and storing it there (not easy) before transferring it to the actual lunar vehicle.

I say this as a massive fan of Apollo, but we really shouldn’t be bothering with this stuff. Robots in space are doing a perfectly good job. See also Kelly and Zach Weinersmith’s magnificent teardown of the billionaires’ space dreams, A City on Mars.