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I would have thought the number would be higher to maintain a race on Mars but I guess if the belief about Adam and Eve, that would not be a problem.

How many humans are needed to start a colony on Mars?

Published Sunday, June 28, 2020 1:24PM EDT

This composite photo, created from over 100 images of Mars taken by Viking Orbiters in the 1970s, made available by NASA shows the planet Mars. (NASA via AP)


TORONTO -- A new study has determined that only 110 people are needed to help build a functioning and self-sustaining human colony on Mars.

The study, conducted by Prof. Jean-Marc Salotti of France's Bordeaux Institute National Polytechnique, found that this number of humans could be enough to create the tools and supplies needed to establish a civilization on the red planet.

"For survival on Mars, some assumptions are made for the organization of the settlers and engineering issue. The minimum number of settlers has been calculated and the result is 110 individuals," Salotti said in the study.

The study, published June 16 in the scientific journal Nature, found that having 110 people on Mars is the ideal number of people to use resources on the planet without depleting supplies.

Salotti came up with this figure using a mathematical model to determine "the feasibility of survival on another planet." According to the study, the model was based on the relation between the time requirements for implementing enterprises necessary for long-term survival and the available time of the settlers.

The study assumed that the number of resources the settlers could bring from Earth would be limited and survival on Mars would primarily rely on "available local resources," such as gas, liquid, or a mineral, in addition to human "production capacity."

"The minimum number of individuals for survival depends on their capacity to produce essential objects and consumables using local resources," Salotti said. "The initial state of the settlement is very important because large quantities of resources and modern tools may help a lot in developing industries and achieving a viable state."

Salotti explained that the settlers would have to live in an oxygen-filled dome where they would build their own agricultural industry to sustain life on the planet.

In order for the settlers to survive, the study said their capacity to work must be more than the amount of time required to build tools. Their survival would also depend on organization within the group, and their capacity to share, which would help settlers become more efficient in dividing up work, according to Salotti.

However, he cautioned that the small community would still come with risks.

The study reported that the civilization could collapse due to infertility, inbreeding, sudden deaths, accident, random events, fighting between individuals, lack of resources and loss of efficiency.

"This is especially true at the beginning of the settlement, as any accident could dramatically reduce the production capacity. In order to mitigate the risks, it will therefore be important to start with large amounts of resources and spare parts," Salotti said.

The study also accounted for possible situations where support from Earth may suddenly be cut off due to reasons such as war, or if the settlement declared independence and tried to survive as its own regime.

While the calculation is hypothetical, Salotti said the study marks the "first quantitative assessment of the minimum number of individuals for survival based on engineering constraints." He added that his work suggests that human habitation of a new planet may be easier than previously thought.

The study's findings coincide with SpaceX's current plans regarding human missions into space.

Earlier this month SpaceX became the first private company to send people into orbit as one of the first steps in U.S. tech billionaire Elon Musk’s goal to start a civilization on Mars.


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Startup wants to offer balloon rides from Alaska to the edge of space

Each passenger could pay an estimated $125K for a 6-hour journey

The Associated Press · Posted: Jun 30, 2020 8:45 AM CT | Last Updated: 34 minutes ago
In this Sept. 27, 2011 file photo, a Minotaur IV rocket takes off from Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska. Florida-based startup Space Perspective plans to use the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak to serve as one of the launch sites for a vehicle called the Spaceship Neptune, The Anchorage Daily News reported. (James Brooks/Kodiak Daily Mirror/AP)

A company wants to use an advanced balloon to fly customers from Earth's surface in Alaska to the highest reaches of the planet's atmosphere.

Florida-based startup firm Space Perspective plans to use the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak to serve as one of the launch sites for the vehicle, called the Spaceship Neptune, The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday.


The balloon rides will be manned by a flight crew taking eight passengers in a pressurized capsule suspended beneath a hydrogen balloon the size of a football stadium. Each passenger could pay an estimated $125,000 for a six-hour journey.

Mark Lester, CEO of Alaska Aerospace Corp., said the high-altitude rides will be available from Kodiak in a few years and will support Alaska tourism.

"You will have people from around the world who want to come to Alaska and see the northern lights from the edge of space," Lester said.

Alaska Aerospace and Space Perspective will test and refine spaceport operations and secure spaceflight licences from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Space Perspective plans to complete an unmanned test flight from the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida next year.

Passengers will begin with a two-hour ascent to about 31 kilometres above Earth. They will then be able to post on social media about the experience or send data.

"Neptune then makes a two-hour descent under the balloon and splashes down, where a ship retrieves the passengers," along with the capsule and balloon, Alaska Aerospace said.

Capsule recovery would occur in the waters around Kodiak Island and the Aleutian Island chain, depending upon the seasonal wind patterns.

The balloon design is derived from technology NASA has used for decades to fly large research telescopes, Space Perspective said.

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Orion's 'Twin' Completes Structural Testing for Artemis I Mission
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Jun 30, 2020
The Orion STA, in its "full stack" launch configuration -- the crew module, service module and launch abort system, as well as the spacecraft adapter and jettisonable fairings -- was lifted into a reverberant acoustic chamber at Lockheed Martin for acoustic testing.

Before NASA astronauts fly the Orion spacecraft on Artemis missions to the Moon and back, engineers needed to thoroughly test its ability to withstand the stresses of launch, climb to orbit, the harsh conditions of deep space transit, and return to Earth. NASA designed Orion from the beginning specifically to support astronauts on missions farther from Earth than any other spacecraft built for humans.

In June 2020, engineers completed testing on a duplicate of Orion called the Structural Test Article (STA), needed to verify the spacecraft is ready for Artemis I - its first uncrewed test flight. NASA and its prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, built the STA to be structurally identical to Orion's main spacecraft elements: the crew module, service module and launch abort system.

The STA testing required to qualify Orion's design began in early 2017 and involved 20 tests, using six different configurations - from a single element, to the entire full stack - and various combinations in between. At completion, the testing verified Orion's structural durability for all flight phases of Artemis I.

"The STA has been an invaluable source for our engineers to prove out the integrity of Orion's design," said Stefan Pinsky, Lockheed Martin's test manager for the Orion structural test article. "Over the course of testing, planning for the configuration and hardware moves of the three large primary Orion elements is a complex process that can sometimes seem like a giant game of Tetris."

STA tests included loads testing to ensure the spacecraft structures can withstand intense loads at launch and entry; acoustic and modal testing to evaluate how Orion and its components tolerate intense vibrational forces; pyrotechnic shock testing that recreates the powerful pyrotechnic blasts needed for critical separation events during flight, such as module separation events and fairing jettisons; and a lightning test to evaluate potential flight hardware damage if the vehicle was exposed to a lightning strike prior to launch.

At Lockheed Martin in Denver, teams worked round-the-clock for days at a time to prepare the tests, execute, tear down then reconfigure the STA for the next test, culminating in 330 actual days of testing.

During some test phases, engineers pushed expected pressures, mechanical loads, vibration and shock conditions up to 40 percent beyond the most severe conditions anticipated during the mission, analyzing data to confirm the spacecraft structures can withstand the extreme environments of space.

While the team was pushing the physical limits of testing with the STA, the actual Orion vehicle for Artemis I recently underwent rigorous testing at NASA's Plum Brook Station in Ohio to certify it can withstand the extreme temperatures and electromagnetic conditions it will endure during its first mission around the Moon and back.

The vehicle is now being readied at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for its integration with the Space Launch System rocket prior to its maiden flight.

The STA campaign will continue beyond Artemis I, incorporating structural loads testing on Orion's launch abort system, and crew module water impact tests to support NASA's Artemis II mission - the first flight around the Moon with astronauts. For Artemis III, the mission that will see the first female and next male astronaut land on the surface of the Moon, the STA will be used for testing to include the spacecraft docking system.

"It's a tremendous achievement for our teams to be able to successfully test this number of STA configurations to validate the structural robustness of the vehicle across the range of conditions that the spacecraft will experience on lunar missions under the Artemis program," said Howard Hu, NASA's acting Orion program manager.

"These results give us continued confidence that Orion is ready for its first Artemis flight to the Moon next year."


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July 2020 lunar eclipse: When and where to watch the ‘buck moon’ event

By Josh K. Elliott Global News
Posted June 30, 2020 2:15 pm
This file photo shows a view of the moon during a penumbral lunar eclipse, on January 10, 2020 in New Delhi, India.
This file photo shows a view of the moon during a penumbral lunar eclipse, on January 10, 2020 in New Delhi, India. Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Who needs fireworks when you’ve got a lunar eclipse?

Skywatchers in much of Canada and the United States will be treated to a penumbral lunar eclipse on U.S. Independence Day, just before the full “buck moon” rises late on July 4 and early July 5.

The penumbral lunar eclipse will appear as a shadow cast by the Earth onto the edge of the moon Saturday night and into Sunday morning. It will look like a foggy darkness over part of the lunar face.

The eclipse will start at 11:07 p.m. EDT (8:07 p.m. PDT) on Saturday night and last for about 2 hours and 45 minutes, according to NASA’s projections. The eclipse will reach its height at 12:31 a.m. EDT (9:31 PDT) on Sunday, when it will veil about one-third of the moon in the sky.

The entire penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible to Canadians in Ontario and provinces east of it, and for the vast majority of Americans. Skywatchers in southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan will be able to see the start of the eclipse, but Canadians in the west will have to catch the eclipse in progress when the moon rises in their area.

The entirety of the penumbral eclipse will also visible to skywatchers in Central and South America. The eclipse will not be visible from Alaska or the northern territories, except along their southernmost edges.

A full searchable map of the eclipse’s path is available at


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UK space hub gets go ahead
by Staff Writers
Forres UK (SPX) Jun 26, 2020

The first orbital spaceflight from the United Kingdom has come a step closer following the Highland Council's decision to give the go-ahead for the Space Hub Sutherland spaceport. Orbex, the UK-based space launch company, has confirmed that Orbex Prime will be the first vertical launch vehicle to fly into orbit from the Space Hub, which will be constructed near Melness on the northern coast of Scotland. Orbex has confirmed the company has already signed six launch contracts.

"The Highland Council's approval of the spaceport is a landmark in the history of spaceflight in Europe and will place the community around Tongue, Melness and Skerray, the Highlands Region, Scotland and the United Kingdom at the very heart of the European space launch industry," said Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex.

"We would like to congratulate Highlands and Islands Enterprise on their leadership of this project and thank numerous local people for their active engagement and support throughout the meticulous planning process. We look forward to becoming an integral part of the local community as we establish our own permanent team at the Space Hub."

The go-ahead for Space Hub Sutherland coincides with a period of intensive work within Orbex: design and development work has continued throughout the pandemic. Orbex's innovative coaxial fuel tank is being subjected to ongoing cryogenic testing, and the company recently signed a lease to install a new testing facility on the former RAF base at Kinloss, close to the company's headquarters in Forres. In parallel Orbex's rocket engines have been progressing through a programme of increasingly demanding performance tests while avionics and guidance systems are also being ground tested.

Several new starters joined the Orbex team in recent weeks, with more expected to join over the summer period. Recruitment is expected to accelerate now that Orbex's preferred option of an easily accessible launch site in Scotland has been approved. Orbex has also partnered with the UK Space Agency's SPIN programme, offering long-term internships to give young engineers hands-on experience of launch vehicle design and production.

The Highland Council's decision will allow Orbex to complete the detailed scoping of its own launch site installation and launch preparation team, which will create full-time, permanent jobs at the Space Hub. Recruitment is expected to start while the spaceport construction is underway.

Conceived and developed as an environmentally sustainable launch system, Orbex Prime will use renewable biofuels to deliver an industry-leading ultra-low CO2 footprint. The Orbex vehicle is intended to be recoverable and re-usable, normally leaving no debris in the ocean or in orbit around the Earth. In January, the European Space Agency awarded Orbex a contract under its Future Launchers Preparatory Program, (FLPP) covering the further development of REFLIGHT, a near zero-mass reusability system which will allow Stage One boosters to be recovered and reused in multiple missions, further reducing the use of raw materials.

"The go-ahead for the Space Hub Sutherland, combined with the steady progress of the Orbex Prime launch vehicle, are important steps towards the first truly orbital space flight from the UK. The last piece of the jigsaw puzzle is the regulatory framework that will govern launches, and we look forward to those regulations being laid before Parliament in the coming weeks," concluded Larmour.


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NASA releases spectacular 10-year timelapse of the sun

Published Thursday, July 2, 2020 11:20AM EDTLast Updated Thursday, July 2, 2020 11:57AM EDT

TORONTO -- It’s been 10 years since NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) began watching the sun non-stop. To celebrate a decade of operations, the space agency released some incredible time-lapse footage of its solar mission.

Since 2010, the SDO has collected 425 million high-resolution images of the sun, amassing 20 million gigabytes of data. Using a variety of instruments, it was able to capture new images of the sun every 0.75 seconds for 10 years. Those images were spliced together to create the time-lapse video shown below.

A decade of sun activity was condensed into the 61-minute video which features notable events, like transiting planets and solar eruptions. The SDO was launched in February 2010 to help researchers understand the sun’s influence on Earth by studying the solar atmosphere.



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A new comet will be visible for early risers as it races closer to Earth

Published Tuesday, July 7, 2020 1:32PM EDTLast Updated Tuesday, July 7, 2020 3:02PM EDT
A new comet can be seen streaking throught the skies. Amateaur Astronomer Malcolm Park explains how you can see it.


TORONTO -- Early risers in the northern hemisphere will be treated to a view of a recently identified comet, which has suddenly become visible to the unaided eye, as it hurtles towards Earth.

Comet NEOWISE – technically called C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) – was first discovered on March 27 by the Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) space telescope launched by NASA in 2009.

At the time, astronomers were unsure if the comet would meet a similar fate to other comets before it, such as Comet ATLAS and Comet SWAN, and break apart as it travelled close to the sun and warmed up.

However, it appears Comet NEOWISE survived its closest approach to the sun late last week and is now making its way closer to Earth before it is expected to return to the outer solar system, according to NASA.

The space agency said the comet has become one of the few “naked-eye comets” of the 21st century after it “suddenly” became visible to the unaided eye this week.

“Word spread quickly, and the comet has already been photographed behind many famous sites and cities around the globe,” NASA said in the caption of a photo of Comet NEOWISE passing over Lebanon on Sunday, which they shared as their “Astronomy Photo of the Day” on Tuesday.  

Although the future brightness of the comet “remains somewhat uncertain” because there’s still a chance it may break apart and therefore dim, NASA said the comet is likely to continue to be visible in the early morning sky this week and in the early evening sky next week.

According to NASA solar system ambassador Eddie Irizarry, Comet NEOWISE is visible at dawn now, but it will be at its highest in the dawn sky around July 11. The comet may be a little tricky to catch, he said, because it will be set against the brightening sky in the northeastern horizon, as opposed to a dark night sky.

Malcolm Park, an astro-photographer who has taken photos of the comet in Ontario, said the comet rises at approximately 3:15 a.m. in the morning sky and becomes more visible between 4 a.m. and 4:30 a.m.

“If you're going to look in the morning, which is over the next week or so, you want to look in the northeast sky, you want a nice clear horizon, and hopefully, very little cloud because the cloud will obscure the detail in the tail,” he told CTV News Channel on Tuesday.

However, Comet NEOWISE may become easier to spot later in the month after it gradually dips below the horizon and reappears in the early evening sky around July 12 to 15. When that occurs, it will then be visible at dusk (just after sunset) in the low northwest horizon, Irizarry said.

“If the comet remains relatively bright, it might be easier to see in the second half of July during evening dusk, because, at that time, it will appear somewhat higher in the sky,” he said.

Although it may be difficult for the average stargazer to spot the comet in the early mornings right now, some skilled photographers have already managed to capture the speeding comet and its streaking tail.

I have a strong dislike of early mornings—but so worth it today because wow is that comet beautiful! C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) I was at Sunset Crater by 4AM. It was an easy naked-eye object, but really rewarding through binoculars. Last pic is closest to naked eye scale.#neowise

— Jeremy Perez (@jperez1690) July 5, 2020

Comet NEOWISE and the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada ��! I was up really early for this shot. It's not often that we get the opportunity to see or photograph a comet of this brightness and with a tail. I hope you like it!��

— Kerry LH�� (@weatherandsky) July 5, 2020

Even though some people have been able to spot the Comet NEOWISE without any instruments, Irizarry said most skywatchers would benefit from the use of binoculars or even a good camera.

Irizarry has also published several illustrations detailing the comet’s location in relation to different constellations so interested viewers know where in the sky to look.

Park also recommended using binoculars to view the comet, which he described as a “unique” opportunity.

“There are comets all the time, but they are not always visible to the naked eye or with binoculars in this case, and it's the pleasure of looking up at the night sky and seeing in the stars, something that's a little different and it represents a different kind of object that's out in the solar system.

On the chance the comet fades later in the month, Irizarry said it’s still a worthwhile endeavor for people to wake up early to try to catch it while it’s in the morning skies.

“It’s still a good idea to get up early in the morning this week and try for a glimpse of comet NEOWISE while it’s still relatively bright, just in case it gets fainter later in the month,” he explained.

Park, too, encouraged people to go out and try and see it sooner than later.

“We can't guarantee you that in a month or in six weeks, it'll still be as bright, although the possibility exists, it could still be visible in about a week to 10 days,” he said.

  • Comet NEOWISE

    Comet NEOWISE is seen over Lebanon on July 5, 2020. (Credit: Maroun Habib (Moophz) / NASA's "Astronomy Picture of the Day")

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NASA adds software experts to work toward new Boeing capsule flight
by Paul Brinkmann
Washington DC (UPI) Jul 07, 2020


NASA added software experts to work with Boeing and SpaceX on their space capsule programs following the failure of Boeing's Starliner test flight in December, the agency announced via a teleconference from Florida on Wednesday.

The software oversight changes were outlined in NASA's release of its final review of the Starliner failure.

The space agency said Boeing remains on track for a second test flight in the last half of this year. Competitor SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule successfully delivered astronauts to the International Space Station on May 31.

"Right now I cannot imagine a scenario where SpaceX is the only provider. ... We need both Boeing and SpaceX to be there for us," said Steve Stich, manager of NASA's commercial crew program.

He and NASA's Kathy Leuders, associate administrator for human exploration, acknowledged the agency might have concentrated more on SpaceX's software approach -- known as spiral software development -- because it was new to them.

"Perhaps we were a little more focused on SpaceX. We've augmented resources on both partners to make sure we're covered," Stich said.

Starliner was launched Dec. 20 without a crew, and failed to reach the International Space Station.

NASA and the company said a problem with the mission clock caused the spacecraft to burn fuel needlessly. That meant it wasn't able to reach the orbit necessary to catch up with the space station.

Boeing has acknowledged that one of its biggest problems with Starliner was a decision to break up tests of its flight software into segments, rather than run "end-to-end" tests from liftoff to docking at the station, and from undocking to landing.

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NASA hits Boeing with 80 recommendations before next space test
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) July 7, 2020


NASA has drawn up a list of 80 recommendations that US aerospace giant Boeing will have to address before attempting to refly its Starliner space capsule, following the failure of an uncrewed test last year.

The recommendations primarily concern the on-board software, which was the main problem with the flight test last December.

The capsule could not be placed in the correct orbit, due to a clock error, and a had to return to Earth after two days instead of docking with the International Space Station as planned.

Boeing subsequently learned that other software problems could have caused the capsule and the rocket to collide at the time of separation, a potentially very dangerous event if the flight had been crewed.

Most of the problems identified run deep and are organizational, for example NASA's verification procedures. The space agency has been a client of Boeing's for decades, but seems to have placed too much faith in its historic partner.

"Perhaps we were a little more focused on SpaceX," said Steve Stich, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, in a call with reporters.

SpaceX, a relative newcomer to the space industry, is the other company chosen by NASA to develop a crewed vessel -- but unlike Boeing, its Crew Dragon successfully completed its uncrewed test flight in 2019, then its first crewed flight in May, with two astronauts on board.

Starliner's next attempt could take place in "the latter part of this year," added Stich, without making a guarantee. Boeing won't therefore be able to carry astronauts until at least 2021, while SpaceX's second crewed flight is set to take place this summer.

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NASA's Perseverance Rover Attached to Atlas V Rocket
by Staff Writers
Kennedy Space Center FL (SPX) Jul 13, 2020

stock image only

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has been attached to the top of the rocket that will send it toward the Red Planet this summer. Encased in the nose cone that will protect it during launch, the rover and the rest of the Mars 2020 spacecraft - the aeroshell, cruise stage, and descent stage - were affixed to a United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster on Tuesday, July 7, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Central Florida.

The process began when a 60-ton hoist on the roof of the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 lifted the nose cone, otherwise known as the payload fairing, 129 feet (39 meters) to the top of the waiting rocket. There, engineers made the physical and electrical connections that will remain between booster and spacecraft until about 50 to 60 minutes after launch, when the two are pyrotechnically separated and Perseverance is on its way.

"I have seen my fair share of spacecraft being lifted onto rockets," said John McNamee, project manager for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. "But this one is special because there are so many people who contributed to this moment. To each one of them I want to say, we got here together, and we'll make it to Mars the same way."

With the mating of spacecraft and booster complete, the final testing of the two (separately and as one unit) will be underway. Then two days before the July 30 launch, the Atlas V will leave the Vertical Integration Facility for good. Traveling by rail, it will cover the 1,800 feet (550 meters) to the launch pad in about 40 minutes. From there, Perseverance has about seven months and 290 million miles (467 million kilometers) to go before arriving at Mars.

The Launch Period
NASA and United Launch Alliance recently updated the mission's launch period - the range of days the rocket can launch in order to reach Mars. It now spans from July 30 to Aug. 15.

The launch period opening changed from July 17 to 30 due to launch vehicle processing delays in preparation for spacecraft mate operations. Four days were also added to the previously designated Aug. 11 end of the launch period. NASA and United Launch Alliance Flight Teams were able to provide those extra days after final weights of both the spacecraft and launch vehicle became available, allowing them to more accurately calculate the propellant available to get Perseverance on its way.

No matter what day Perseverance lifts off during its July 30 to Aug. 15 launch period, it will land in Mars' Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021. Targeting landing for one specific date and time helps mission planners better understand lighting and temperature at the landing site, as well as the location of Mars-orbiting satellites tasked with recording and relaying spacecraft data during its descent and landing.

Managed by JPL, the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life. It will also characterize the planet's climate and geology, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first planetary mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust). Subsequent missions, currently under consideration by NASA in cooperation with the European Space Agency, would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans.

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