Orion lookbackImage source, NASA
Image caption, The Orion capsule looks back towards the Earth

There is a chance that humans could stay on the moon for a long time.

habitats would be needed to support scientific missions according to Howard Hu.

He told Laura that the launch of the Artemis rocket was a historic day for space flight.

It is 134,000 km from the Moon.

The Artemis rocket was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in order to take astronauts back to Earth.

There were two aborted launches in August and September because of technical problems.

Howard HuImage source, NASA
Image caption, Howard Hu is in charge of the Orion spacecraft

Mr Hu told Laura that watching Artemis lift off was one of the highlights of his life.

He said that it was the first step in long-term deep space exploration.

This is an historic day for Nasa, but it is also an historic day for all the people who love space flight and deep space exploration.

We are going back to the Moon, we are working towards a sustainable programme and this is the vehicle that will carry the people that will land us back on the Moon again.

Mr Hu explained that if the current Artemis flight was successful then the next would be with a crew, followed by a third where astronauts would land on the Moon again for the first time since 1972.

The current mission was proceeding well, he told the BBC, with all systems working and the mission team preparing for the next firing of the engines on Monday.

Mr Hu admitted that watching the mission from Earth was not like being a parent, but he said seeing the images and videos coming back from the moon gave him a sense of euphoria.

Media caption,

The rocket blasts off.

Getting the module back to Earth is one of the most important parts of the mission. It will re-enter the planet's atmosphere at 38,000 km/h (24,000mph), or 32 times the speed of sound, and the shield on its underside will be subjected to a temperature of 3000C.

Mr Hu said the plan was to have humans living on the Moon in this decade.

The reason for going back to the Moon is to find out if there is water at the satellite's south pole, which could be used to make fuel for craft going deeper into space.

Mr Hu said that people would be sent down to the surface to live and do science.

When we go to Mars, it's going to be important for us to learn a little bit beyond our Earth's circle.

The Artemis missions allow us to have a sustainable platform and transportation system that will allow us to learn how to operate in deep space.

On December 11th, the capsule will return to Earth.

Graphic of SLS
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  • Watch the full interview with Nasa's Howard Hu on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday, 20 November
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  • Orion
  • Artemis
  • Nasa
  • Laura Kuenssberg