NASA sets a date to begin lunar tuning • The Register
NASA has set a date for testing the technologies it hopes will return to the Moon and explore Mars: February 2022.
The agency announced on Saturday that its Orion spacecraft has been stacked on top of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and if all tests go well, it is expected to conduct an unmanned test flight around the Moon.
The mission – the first in the Artemis program – is touted as “the first integrated test of NASA’s deep space exploration systems”. NASA’s plan is to send the SLS into space, after which the Orion capsule will fly to the moon.
Orion is designed to accommodate up to six astronauts and support them for up to six months, thanks to its coupling with a service module filled with supplies, fuel and solar panels.
Artemis 1, ready for final testing. Click to enlarge
The Artemis 1 mission plan calls for a trip around the Moon, including orbits just 100 km above Luna’s surface, which will help Orion enter a retrograde orbit about 70,000 km from the satellite alone. naturalness of the Earth. The capsule and service module will spend six days in this orbit, allowing NASA to monitor and test its systems to prove it is ready for crewed missions.
A detailed mission plan can be viewed in the video below.
NASA hasn’t set a specific day for the launch of Artemis 1 – possibly because there are five tests left before the mission is certified ready to fly. The Artemis program has experienced many delays, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the February date slips.
The Artemis program aims to send humans to the moon, establish a permanent base there, and build a “gateway” orbiting Luna that serves as a staging post for lunar surface missions and crewed missions. to other destinations in the solar system. The launch of the bridge is scheduled for 2023 and the first crewed mission to the Moon is expected the following year. It’s currently a bit of a blur thanks to delays in designing a suitable spacesuit.
The Artemis program is controversial due to this type of delay and numerous cost overruns – as well as the fact that private space equipment appears to have developed superior technology while NASA was working on its own efforts.
SpaceX’s spacecraft, for example, has a more powerful specification than the SLS and is rather more reusable.
There’s a lot to love about Artemis too, as it will mark NASA’s return to crewed operations a decade after the Space Shuttle’s last flight. The program also plans to do tons of science and set the stage for missions to Mars. ®