Q. Can we consider this mission a success? If so, how are we measuring that?
A. Given the fact that Artemis I successfully launched, placed the Orion spacecraft in its intended orbit around the moon and successfully landed safely back on Earth, this mission was certainly a success.
Some unique aspects of the mission compared to Apollo are that Orion spent the longest amount of time undocked in space for anything designed to hold humans – 25 days – and that it is the furthest a human-rated spacecraft has traveled from the Earth. The detailed success of the mission will also come out of the data processing, which will take time to parse out.
Q. How much better now is the equipment and technology than when astronauts last went to the moon?
A. Artemis is building upon the knowledge gained not just from the Apollo program, but about 50 years of scientific, computing and engineering advances. The technology won’t look much different from the surface, but, compared to the Apollo spacecraft, Artemis will be able to withstand harsher space environments for longer amounts of time, hold a larger crew, hold more weight in the command/service modules, navigate more complex trajectories and should overall be safer.
Now this isn’t to say it will be risk-free – space is incredibly dangerous – but Artemis will be able to go above and beyond what Apollo was able to accomplish at, proportionately, a cheaper price tag.