NASA agency Artemis 1 A moon mission could end up being a summertime affair.
An April launch is no longer possible for Artemis 1, which will be sent without a crew Orion spacecraft around the moon using space launch system (SLS) megarocket, agency officials said today (February 24). And it can be hard to hit her as well.
“We continue to assess the May window, but we also recognize that there is a lot of work ahead of us,” Tom Whitmaier, associate deputy administrator for exploration systems development at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said today during a virtual press conference. .
Some of this work will involve analyzing data from Artemis 1.”wet rehearsal“A critical test that will take the SLS-Orion stack through many of the milestones it will reach on launch day (boot off, of course).
Like the launch, the wet dress will be rehearsed on Pad 39B at NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Agency officials announced today that the SLS and Orion are set to roll out to the platform from KSC’s Cave Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT) on March 17. The mega craft will likely take about 12 hours to make a relatively short trip to the platform.
Agency officials said the SLS-Orion stack will likely spend about a month on Pad 39B, with about two weeks on either side of rehearsal. The vehicle will then fall back to the VAB for further analysis and processing.
The May launch window runs from the 7th to the 21st, Whitmer said. If Artemis 1 isn’t ready to go by then, the next opportunity comes from June 6 through June 16. The next window after that runs from June 29 through July 12.
These windows are limited for a variety of reasons, Whitmer said. He noted, among other factors, the performance limitations of the SLS, the need to properly align the launch with Earth’s rotation and the location of the moonand the fact that solar-powered Orion is not designed to fly through an eclipse that lasts more than 90 minutes.
Artemis 1 is a huge mission for NASA and Artemis program of manned lunar exploration, so the agency is taking its time to make sure all is well before it takes off. Artemis 1 will mark the first-ever flight of the massive and powerful SLS aircraft and the second mission of Orion, which flew into Earth orbit atop a heavy United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket in December 2014.
If all goes well within about 26 days of Artemis 1, NASA will begin preparing for Artemis 2, which will send astronauts on a journey around the moon. This historic flight – NASA’s first manned mission outside Earth orbit since the Apollo era – is tentatively scheduled for 2024. Artemis 3 will put astronauts on the moon in 2025 or thereabouts, using SpaceX Starship The car, if all goes according to plan.
And this landing on the moon is not the end point of Artemis. The program aims to establish a long-term and sustainable human presence on and around the Moon. The lessons and skills gained from doing so will aid in NASA’s next giant leap — putting astronauts on Mars, which is what the agency aims to do in the 2030s.
Mike Wall is the author of “AbroadBook (Great Grand Publishing House, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrials. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed. Follow us on Twitter Tweet embed or on Facebook.
“Twitteraholic. Total bacon fan. Explorer. Typical social media practitioner. Beer maven. Web aficionado.”