NASA’s ambitious Artemis 1 moon mission is to return to the platform, one last time, before launch.
The Artemis 1 The stack will operate on the approximately 4 mile (6.4 km) journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center to Launch Complex 39B on August 18, NASA Confirmed on Friday (5 August). The launch will keep Artemis 1 on track to embark on a weeks-long uncrewed journey around the Moon no later than August 29.
Artemis 1 will put space launch system (SLS) megarocket and Orion spacecraft With their strides to ensure reliability before astronauts make a similar trip a few years from now — some even reach the lunar surface, if NASA’s plans come to fruition.
Next launch is coming Intensive system certifications And more than a decade of planning.
“Our teams have been working very, very hard for a very long time to get to this point,” Rick Labrode, Artemis 1 flight manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, said in a live briefing Friday. He added that the mission was “very special. We are very excited.”
Related: NASA’s Artemis 1 Moon Mission: Live Updates
more: NASA’s Artemis 1 moon mission explained in pictures
Artemis 1 will mark the first-ever launch of the SLS and only the second for Orion, which went into Earth’s orbit back in 2014. If all goes according to plan on August 29, the SLS will roar through the atmosphere to achieve orbit in just 8.5 minutes. The upper stage of the massive Orion rocket will deploy into a half-moon injection orbit about 80 to 90 minutes after liftoff.
These milestones will begin an action-packed 42-day journey in space for Orion, assuming liftoff occurs on August 29 (mission timing changes slightly depending on the launch date).
“There’s no time to really catch our breath. We really managed to run,” said Judd Friling, JSC Ascent and Entry Journey Director for Artemis 1.
As Orion soars toward the moon, the upper stage of the SLS will be tasked with propagating Cubes for the moon and other sciences As it pushes itself in an orbit around the sun.
Orion will target the moon retrograde orbit. He’ll stay there for several weeks, then get gravity assistance from the moon for the trip back to Earth.
The spacecraft has three primary targets in Artemis 1, each designed to display endurance. Mission team members want to show Orion that it can return through Earth’s atmosphere safely, can operate consistently in an “flying environment” from launch to start, and can keep astronauts safe inside during recovery after returning home.
Outreach activities, such as taking selfies of its solar panels, will attempt to keep the public involved in the long journey (as Orion’s data transmission rates from deep space allow).
For example: “When we get to the point where we are in fact farthest from any human-classified spacecraft, farthest from any spacecraft Apollo The vehicles are gone, we want to pick that up at the public affairs event,” Labrode said.
Related: How NASA’s Artemis Lunar Landing Works for Astronauts
The last major milestone in Orion’s mission will be A High speed re-entry Through the Earth’s atmosphere, with the aim of reaching the water distribution site off the coast of San Diego. He’ll descend into the Pacific Ocean under parachutes, and just before he arrives, maneuver your “descent direction” to glide into the ocean waves at the right angle.
There, the vehicle’s power will be kept running for about two hours to test how well Orion can do at maintaining cooling for the astronauts. NASA officials said a US Navy ship will retrieve Orion, catching the spacecraft from the water.
After the mission will come months of analysis to ensure that SLS and Orion are indeed ready to carry humans. The current timeline calls for Artemis 2 for a crew loft orbiting the moon in 2024 and for Artemis 3, the first human lunar landing mission since then. Apollo 17 in 1972, to land on the surface no later than 2025.
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