Artemis I, a mission to orbit the Moon, might take off as early as August 29, according to a NASA announcement made on Wednesday. NASA will use the unmanned mission to test its deep space exploration equipment in order to make sure it is prepared to take people to the Moon and beyond. At Cape Canaveral, Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, NASA will test its newly improved Exploration Ground Systems in addition to launching the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft.
On August 29, NASA has a two-hour window for launch. The agency also has a two-hour window on September 2 and a 1.5-hour window on September 5 for launches, should the first day not work out. Nothing is certain. The launch dates coincide with the peak of hurricane season, so meteorological conditions must also cooperate in order for NASA’s preparations to go as planned.
The first of three flights, Artemis I, will see NASA place a person of color and a woman on the moon. The Artemis mission, which bears the name of Apollo’s identical twin sister, will assist NASA in establishing long-term lunar exploration in advance of manned expeditions to Mars.
Getting ready for Artemis It’s been a protracted voyage so far. Even bringing the Orion and SLS to the launchpad is a significant undertaking. NASA initially brought the 322-foot-tall, 3.5-million-pound rocket and spaceship to the launchpad in March. Just four miles separated NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building from the launch pad, but the journey took over 11 hours.
NASA has been meticulously testing its deadlines and processes in the months leading up to launch. After what is referred to be a wet dress rehearsal, the agency repaired its cars. There are three primary goals for the Artemis I mission. The mission’s main objective is to show that Orion’s heat shield can endure the intense heat and high speed that will be present during lunar re-entry.
According to Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin, Orion will be traveling at a speed of around 24,500 miles per hour, or Mach 32, when it returns from the Moon. Outside of the heat shield, the spaceship will endure temperatures half as hot as the sun.
In comparison to the temperatures humans experience in returning from low Earth orbit, Sarafin remarked, “that is a lot quicker and much hotter.” He said that while the heat shield has undergone thorough testing on the ground, there is currently no aerodynamic or aerothermal test facility that can simulate the circumstances of leaving lunar orbit.
The second goal of Artemis I is to show how the rocket and the spacecraft—along with all of the facilities—operate and fly in all of the mission stages. Teams will check the communications, propulsion, and navigation systems of the spacecraft and launch vehicle during the flight test.
In order to achieve this goal, NASA needs further proof that Orion can withstand the harsh heat conditions of deep space while transporting people. The primary propulsion system and solar array wings of Orion must function as intended, and the operations teams must control the spacecraft during all flight stages, from pre-launch through the return to Earth and recovery.
The final goal is to rescue Orion after it has splashed down. While data will be sent to engineers at various points throughout the trip, information will be available when the crew module is retrieved after splashdown and used to plan future missions.
Three mannequins will be on board the spaceship to assist NASA to analyze how the craft performed. After splashdown, experts will thoroughly examine Orion, extract data, and reuse parts like the highly accurate avionics. Additionally, it will enable NASA to show off its recovery methods and processes in advance of future crewed trips. Ten CubeSat payloads are one of the mission’s other, less crucial goals.