Half a century after the end of the Apollo era, NASA will launch the long-awaited Artemis program to return humans to the Moon. On Monday at 14:33 CEST, a window of opportunity will open to launch a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion module, which will fly around the Moon without a crew and, if successful, return to Earth yet. 42 days.
SLS and Orion are already waiting to take off at Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket engines are scheduled to ignite on Monday, August 29th at 2:33 PM CEST. The countdown can be delayed by up to two hours, but a longer delay means the start will be pushed back to September 2 or 5. If Monday’s launch is successful and the module orbits the moon as planned, it will drop into the Pacific Ocean on October 10.
The goal of the Artemis I test mission is to fully test everything from the missile and module, through the operation of the control center on the ground, to the effects on the future crew. NASA plans to max out the systems and, as part of the testing, gain knowledge about the resistance of Orion’s heat shield. They will also attempt to recover the unit after a collision in the ocean. In addition to returning astronauts to the Moon, the entire Artemis program aims to establish a long-term lunar colony as a springboard for more ambitious future trips to Mars.
NASA has warned that the six-week test flight is risky and may be cut short if there is a partial failure. “(The rocket and the module) will be loaded and tested. We’re going to get them to do things we would never do with a crew to try to make them as safe as possible,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told the Associated Press.
On the moon in 2025
If all goes according to plan, a manned rover could fly around the moon in 2024 with the Artemis II mission, and NASA plans to land two people on the moon by the end of 2025 with the Artemis III mission. According to the agreement between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA, European astronauts must also participate in other missions. The European Space Agency (ESA) plans to land it on the Moon by the end of the decade. However, the official decision of the US Agency and the results of previous missions are still pending.
The cost of the Artemis I mission exceeds four billion dollars (98.6 billion kroner). The total cost of the lunar program, which has become billions of dollars more expensive and several years late, has so far jumped to $93 billion (2.3 trillion crowns), even with the development of technologies and lengthy tests.
At launch, special attention will be paid to the new SLS rocket, which NASA is considering a less technical and more interesting name for the future. At 98 metres, the SLS is thinner and shorter than the Saturn V rockets that carried 24 Apollo astronauts into space 50 years ago. Additional rocket motors will be disconnected from the rocket after two minutes. Two hours after liftoff, Orion’s module will disconnect and operate the European Service Module (ESM) on its way to the moon and back.
The Orion module is three meters high and can accommodate four astronauts. It will be inhabited by three dolls during the Artemis I mission. One of them, named Commander Monnequin Campos in the general competition, represents a full human body and sits in the captain’s chair generally dressed in orange.
The other two places will be occupied by a torso made of materials that mimic human bones, soft tissues, and the organs of an adult woman. The incomplete exhibits, named Zohar and Helga, will be equipped with thousands of sensors and detectors to monitor radiation levels, among other things. Zohar will also test a windbreaker from Israel. Shaun the sheep, a character from the children’s cartoon series, will also fly on the plane.
Between 1969 and 1972, 12 astronauts walked on the moon as part of the six Apollo missions. During these missions, mankind only explored the area around the lunar equator. For the future Artemis mission, NASA has announced 13 potential landing sites around the moon’s south pole, where it plans to send the first woman and first non-white person in the next generation of space explorers.
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