NATIONAL (WWLP) – NASA announced the Artemis II mission New Year’s Eve, which will take the first crew to the moon in 50 years.

NASA also announced on social media the Artemis II mission will send a spacecraft to the moon to “pave the way for human exploration.” The deep space mission is NASA’s plan to build a “global alliance” while maintaining American leadership.

The four RS-25 engines at the bottom of the rocket are specially created to withstand the environment and conditions of deep space exploration. In contrast, NASA typically uses three of those engines for missions close to Earth’s orbit.

In 1959, Pioneer 4 was the first American spacecraft to leave Earth’s orbit. Although the mission was not a success, the spacecraft did not get close enough to the moon to take the planned images, scientists were able to collect data on radiation in space. The last human mission on the moon, Apollo 17, sent Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt to the moon for three days in 1972.

The history of lunar exploration goes back hundreds of years, however, to 1610 when Italian Astronomer Galileo Galilei made the first observations of the moon with a telescope, which was invented in 1609.  In 1645, Michael Florent van Langren made the first map of the moon. in 1959 Soviet spacecraft Luna 2 reached the moon.