Why the first lift off of Artemis started a new era of space exploration

This is how NASA’s next-generation moon rocket took off.

The new era exploration outer space Depth Container I started. Two hurricanes, two months and a series of technical repairs have passed since the mission’s three previous launch attempts were aborted. Artemis 1 From NASA, which finally took off this morning at 3.47 AM Argentine time (6.47 GMT).

It was take off The most powerful space rocket in historywhich is finally on its way to the Moon on a 26-day unmanned mission.

The spacecraft, made up of the powerful rocket Space launch system (SLS) and the flagship Orin capsule, lit up the night sky as it lifted off from Launchpad A39 from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida for the return of the future’s first manned deep space mission, which NASA has done. in half a century.

All the power of the most powerful man-made rocket ever built, at the Artemis I launch today (REUTERS/Joe Skipper)

Artemis take off 1! “We got up together, back to the Moon and beyond,” NASA commentator Derol Neal said during the launch broadcast this morning. A few minutes later, Artemis launch manager Charlie Blackwell-Thompson addressed his mission control team: “This is your moment. We are all part of something incredibly special: the first launch of Artemis, the first step in returning our country to the moon previously Mars. What they did today will inspire future generations.”

There are no astronauts aboard the Artemis 1 test flight. Only three dummies measure radiation levels and test new life-sustaining systems and equipment designed for the next generation of long-duration human spaceflight. Snoopy stuffed toy is a weightless thermometer inside a capsule.

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Eight minutes after liftoff this morning, the SLS rocket’s upper stage reached orbit with Orion, and the spacecraft began deploying its four solar arrays from its service module shortly after. The SLS upper stage fired its single engine to raise its orbit less than an hour after launch. Then it was back up and running again 98 minutes after liftoff to put Orion on a trajectory on the Moon. While NASA hopes for success, the nature of the Artemis 1 test flight means that something can always go wrong.

Space maneuvers captured by cameras on Artemis I (NASA)
Space maneuvers captured by cameras on Artemis I (NASA)

Artemis 1 aims to prove that the SLS rocket and Orion rocket are ready to take astronauts to the moon as part of a sustainable lunar exploration program that will eventually enable human trips to Mars. NASA wants to use the vehicles to build a gateway space station around the moon, and then send crews there to use it as a base of operations for trips to the lunar south pole and other unknown worlds.

NASA said the objectives of Artemis 1 are simple but challenging. A top priority is proving that Orion’s heat shield can withstand the scorching return temperatures (up to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit or 2,800 degrees Celsius) generated by returning home from the Moon at 25,000 mph (40,000 km/h). NASA also wants Orion to show that it’s willing to keep astronauts alive in lunar orbit. The agency aims to successfully recover the capsule so it can be studied before Artemis 2, the program’s first crewed flight around the Moon, which is scheduled to fly in 2024.

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Then, the crewed Artemis 3 flight, which will follow in 2025, will land on the moon, making it the first manned lunar landing since Apollo 17 in December 1972. NASA’s Artemis program is named after Apollo’s twin sister and aims for the first landing. . A woman and the first person of color on the moon during their first moon landing on the Artemis 3 mission no later than 2025.

Flight plan during liftoff of the SLS rocket (NASA)
Flight plan during liftoff of the SLS rocket (NASA)

The SLS rockets and Orion spacecraft are an odd mixture of space history and future promise. Artemis 1 launched from the same platform used by NASA’s Apollo 10 mission in 1969, which sent three astronauts around the moon months before the first astronaut landed on Apollo 11. The SLS rocket is powered by engines inherited from the space shuttle and a solid rocket booster. Slices.

The SLS’s 98-meter rocket is slightly shorter than the massive Saturn V’s Apollo rockets (110 metres), but the new vehicle is more powerful, generating 8.8 million pounds of thrust at takeoff, mostly from solid rocket fuel. The Orion spacecraft also has developments. It is 30% larger than the Apollo capsule and designed to carry four astronauts, compared to three.

Artemis I mission to her Scientific experiments On board the Artemis 1 mission. On board the SLS rocket, 10 cubes were launched with Artemis 1 and will be deployed en route to the moon. Their missions vary widely, with some aiming to orbit the Moon and search for traces of water ice, while others will test exploration techniques.

This was the third attempted launch of the Artemis I rocket. An initial attempt on August 29 was canceled due to a cooling process failure experienced by one of the rocket’s four main engines. A second attempt was aborted on 3 September when a hydrogen leak was detected during the rocket’s lengthy fueling process.

The SLS was then returned to KSC’s Vehicle Assembly Building for repairs and protection from Hurricane Ian, which hit the Florida coast in late September.

Most recently, the revised November 12 target date was pushed back to today due to Hurricane Nicole (which quickly downgraded to a tropical storm after landfall). Strong winds from the storm ripped a piece of insulation away from the Orion spacecraft’s exterior, prompting Artemis mission teams to study the problem and determine whether the launch on November 16 was within safety parameters.

Test at sea using the Orion capsule (Reuters/Mike Blake)
Test at sea using the Orion capsule (Reuters/Mike Blake)

In the end, teams at KSC quickly assessed the damage in the days after the storm and concluded that SLS and Orion were still fit for a successful launch this morning.

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Lovell Loxley

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