The world’s most expensive lander: A new NASA project aims to land a giant rocket from outer space into the heart of the solar system
NEW YORK — The first human spaceflight mission to reach the Moon and back is underway, with a new robotic lander poised to make history.
The NASA Orion spacecraft, which will be able to dock with the Moon on June 12, is set to land in the heart at least one of the lunar poles, landing at the far side of the Red Planet.
NASA’s $1.6 billion Orion capsule will land atop the lunar surface, where it will perform a controlled descent and landing maneuver.
As the spacecraft approaches the Moon, the robotic landers will deploy parachutes to slow it down and send it into a landing zone near a pair of geysers on the lunar landscape.
“The lander’s trajectory is guided by Earth’s gravity and the Moon’s gravitational pull,” NASA said in a statement.
Once it arrives on the surface, the lander will touch down in the “right place” to capture images of the landscape and the lunar terrain and send back data to Earth, NASA said.
It will also take advantage of the planet’s unique gravity to send a “breathing vehicle” to take samples.
On the surface of the Moon will be a pair “spherical structures,” the same type of structure that NASA has used to send astronauts to the Moon before, NASA’s statement said.
The landing is the first test flight of the $1 billion mission.
In October, NASA announced the first unmanned flight of its Orion spacecraft in 2021, following an agreement with the Japanese space agency.
Last week, a U.S. military cargo craft successfully landed on the Moon after three weeks of test flights.
A Japanese robotic land vehicle made its first mission last month, taking a sample from the Moon.