For the unlikely scenario where the Artemis III astronauts having landed on the Moon press the ascent button and nothing happens, will NASA have a backup or rescue contingency plan?

If so, what would (or could) it be?

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    $\begingroup$ Suggest editing this to just failure to launch, the political consequences would be pure opinion. Even answering the launch options would be hard given the lack of solidity in Artemis planning. Unless they get a budget for backup landers most likely plan will be same as Apollo, design very carefully, and prepare a speech. $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2020 at 9:58
  • $\begingroup$ Probably involve an updated version of this archives.gov/files/presidential-libraries/events/centennials/… $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2020 at 10:01
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    $\begingroup$ There is an answer somewhere on this site about alternative approaches Apollo astronauts could take in such an event, including the extreme of getting out of the ascent vehicle again and manually fixing stuff. $\endgroup$
    – user10509
    Feb 6, 2020 at 10:03
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    $\begingroup$ I've removed the subjective opinion-based answer bits in order to avoid the question being closed for "primarily opinion-based answers". $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 6, 2020 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan Doggen as well as the extremely crazy-looking schemes of strapping themselves to a landing leg with some small propellant tanks and a vernier rocket. $\endgroup$
    – ikrase
    Feb 8, 2020 at 2:56

1 Answer 1


It's worth noting that at this time, there isn't enough details on Artemis to know for certain. The program is only a bit of a concept at this time, with the hope to have it more fully fleshed out soon. Still, anything very specific, like backup procedures, probably has many possible options.

Presumably this will be similar to the Apollo system, have a system that is basically foolproof for the ascent stage, as there really isn't a backup there. The system was pressure fed, igniting on contact, so it would be very difficult for it to not work.

Actually, for the Apollo system, there were a few backups. There was a procedure to jump start the engine, and a few more extreme procedures that I've heard rumors of but can't find anything online at the moment. No doubt similar procedures would be in place for Artemis.

Bottom line is, it is very likely if there is an issue with the ascent stage, we won't be able to do anything about it. It would take 3 days just to get there, assuming you have a rocket on the pad with a rescue mission ready to go, and the SLS rocket seems unlikely to have a backup even built, let alone ready to go on the pad.

  • $\begingroup$ Well, one could always send two missions at the same time. What's another billion. $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2020 at 14:44

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