Access to Low Earth Orbit
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Launcher Overview

Access to Orbit

The role of Artemis Project spacecraft Reference Mission starts and ends in low earth orbit. To get up there, we use launch services developed outside the project.

A host of launchers are available today, and many more are being developed, to get our hardware and crew into earth orbit. The Space Shuttle was selected as the launcher for the reference mission because, although it is the most expensive launch system in the world today, it is also the most capable man-rated launcher.

Current development of new lower-cost launchers in the United States and other countries will most likely change the situation before the Artemis Project reference mission is ready to launch. Until then the Shuttle is the best vehicle which can satisfy all our mission requirements. Also, we are being as conservative as we reasonably can in defining the reference mission. If costs and revenues balance using the Space Shuttle, then they will look even better with a less expensive launcher.

Two launches put the components moon-bound spacecraft into low Earth orbit, where the vehicle is assembled. Our crew goes up with the hardware on the second flight.

Access to Low Earth Orbit

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