Exploration Mission 2

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Exploration Mission 2
SLS Block 1B in flight.
Mission type Manned Lunar Flyby
Operator NASA
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type Orion MPCV
Start of mission
Launch date 2022 (planned)[1]
Rocket SLS Block 1B[2]
Launch site Kennedy LC-39B[3]
End of mission
Landing site Pacific Ocean[4]

Orion Triangle Patch.svg

Orion Program
← EM-1
EM-3 →

The Exploration Mission 2, or EM-2, is a scheduled mission of the Space Launch System and possibly the first crewed mission of NASA's Orion spacecraft.

Originally, the mission was intended to perform a flyby of a captured asteroid in lunar orbit.[5] In April 2017, however, NASA revealed a new roadmap for the SLS program. In it, the EM-2 mission is planned to take four astronauts aboard Orion on an 8-to-21-day trip around the Moon to deliver the first element of the Deep Space Gateway (DSG).[6]

Current projected mission[edit]

As of 2017, the EM-2 mission plan is to send four astronauts in the first manned Orion capsule along with the first element of the future Deep Space Gateway (DSG), a small space station, into lunar orbit for a maximum of 21 days. The DSG component will be the "Power and Propulsion Bus" weighing 9 tonnes-force (20,000 lbf), capable of generating 40 kW of power and powered by 12 kW ion thrusters for maneuvering. The crewed Orion and the DSG component will not dock to each other.

Original projected mission[edit]

Until 2017, EM-2 was a projected single-launch mission of a Space Launch System Block IB with an Exploration Upper Stage, lunar Block 1 Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), and a payload insertion of 50.7 t. It was to be an eight-day mission with a crew of four astronauts, sent on a free return trajectory around the Moon, to visit a captured asteroid in lunar orbit.[7]

Similar missions[edit]

Apollo 8 was a similar mission to EM-2 in 1968, in that it was crewed, and did not land on the Moon; crewed by 3 astronauts, designed to flight test a Command Service Module beyond low Earth orbit. It however did enter lunar orbit, for an extended stay.[8]

In 2005, the company Space Adventures announced plans to take two tourists within 100 km (62 mi) of the lunar surface using a Soyuz spacecraft piloted by a professional cosmonaut. The mission, named DSE-Alpha, has been priced at US$150 million per seat and would last 8-9 days. Company CEO Eric Anderson stated in 2011 that one seat had been sold; however, the launch date has continually slipped as the second seat remains unsold as of 2017.[9]

A proposed late 2018 SpaceX Lunar Tourism Mission is similar to EM-2, with two space tourists paying for a free-return loop around the Moon and back to Earth, using the Crew Dragon capsule and launched on the Falcon Heavy. At the time of announcement in early 2017, neither this version of the Dragon nor Falcon had yet flown.[10][11]


  1. ^ "SLS EM-1 & -2 launch dates realign; EM-3 gains notional mission outline". 22 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017. 
  2. ^ Bergin, Chris (23 February 2012). "Acronyms to Ascent – SLS managers create development milestone roadmap". NASASpaceflight.com. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  3. ^ Hill, Bill (March 2012). "Exploration Systems Development Status" (PDF). NASA Advisory Council. Retrieved 2012-07-21. 
  4. ^ Bergin, Chris (14 June 2012). "NASA teams evaluating ISS-built Exploration Platform roadmap". NASASpaceflight.com. Retrieved 2012-07-21. 
  5. ^ Foust, Jeff (March 25, 2015). "NASA Selects Boulder Option for Asteroid Redirect Mission". Space News. Retrieved 2015-03-27. 
  6. ^ NASA finally sets goals, missions for SLS – eyes multi-step plan to Mars, NASA SpaceFlight
  7. ^ https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-s-first-flight-with-crew-will-mark-important-step-on-journey-to-mars
  8. ^ Charlie Wood (25 February 2017). "Apollo 8 redux: Why NASA may send humans around the moon, again". Christian Science Monitor. 
  9. ^ Moseman, Andrew (April 26, 2011). "Just One ($150 Million) Seat Remains on Space Adventures' Lunar Flyby". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved June 4, 2017. 
  10. ^ "SpaceX promises a Moon vacation in 2018". The Verge. 3 March 2017. 
  11. ^ Dave Trumbore (27 February 2017). "SpaceX Will Attempt to Send Humans Around the Moon Next Year". Nerdist.