Tuesday , 28 May 2024
Home Volunteer Post NASA Artemis I Launch Paves Way for Moon Landing
Volunteer Post

NASA Artemis I Launch Paves Way for Moon Landing

Credited to NASA. Editor: Kathryn Hambleton

President George W. Bush declared in January 2004 that the Space Shuttle Program would be formally ended once the International Space Station was constructed, a goal achieved in July 2011 by the final crew of the Atlantis. NASA began plans for a new spacecraft even as the last manned space flight program came to a close. This process lasted over a decade, though it has produced a new craft as well as a new rocket system to lift it to space. NASA intends on using Artemis to conduct the first Moon landing in decades.

NASA’s Ambitious Manned Space Program

Credited to NASA. Editor: Kathryn Humbleton

The Artemis program is intended to see NASA astronauts once more on the surface of the Moon. It relies on the Space Launch System rocket, or SLS. Artemis I, an unmanned mission, launched on November 16th, 2022. This mission allowed for the testing of the Orion spacecraft, which has a crew module with a capacity of four people. The spacecraft traveled approximately 1.4 million miles before returning to Earth’s surface.

Artemis II, a manned mission, has an unconfirmed launch date of November 2024, and is to pave the way for an Artemis III moon landing proposed for 2025. This will be the first manned mission to the Moon’s South Pole region, a destination whose “unique characteristics hold promise for unprecedented deep space scientific discoveries” for NASA. This would be the first time humans have landed on the Moon’s surface in over fifty years.

Pattern of Delay

Credited to NASA. Editor: Erika Peters.

The Artemis program, SLS, and Orion have faced setbacks for more than a decade. A contract for the construction of Orion was announced in 2006, according to Jason Davis of the Planetary Society. The capsule was first tested in a launch in August 27th, 2014. Congress announced the SLS project in September 14th, 2011, and an original launch date was scheduled for 2017. However, costs, construction mishaps, and issues with Orion pushed the launch date back to 2018.

In July 2015, a Government Accountability Office report discovered that the SLS program’s “contractors may incur cost overruns ranging from about $367 million dollars to about $1.4 billion, which is significantly higher than the contractors were reporting- $89 million” in their evaluation. The report also cast doubt upon the program’s ability to meet its scheduled first launch window in 2018. Another GAO report in 2017, while noting progress, concluded the following:

“[…] management weaknesses- including overly ambitious schedules, unreliable cost estimating, limited reserves, and operating for extended periods of time without definitized contracts- have increased the likelihood that the programs will incur schedule delays and cost overruns, particularly when coupled with the technical risks that are inherent in any human spaceflight development.”

The launch of the Artemis was delayed once more, from 2018 to 2019, then pushed back again. Artemis I was finally readied in 2021 for a launch in 2022. In August of 2022, the weather turned against Artemis. Hurricane Ian prompted NASA to move Artemis I from the launch site for protection at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. This delayed it until it’s final launch in November.

Mission Success

Credited to NASA. Editor: Kathryn Hambleton.

NASA’s review and analysis has determined, as of March 2023, that Artemis I performed according to requirements for a manned mission. The SLS rocket brought the Orion spacecraft to the targeted point in orbit and on the proper trajectory for its mission. In an article written by Alyssa Lee for NASA, reviews of the SLS’s performance have been positive. She quotes the following from the SLS program manager, John Honeycutt:

“The correlation between actual flight performance and predicted flight performance for Artemis I was excellent. There is engineering and an art to successfully building and launching a rocket, and the analysis on the SLS rocket’s inaugural flight puts NASA and its partners in a good position to power missions for Artemis II and beyond.”

According to the March analysis mentioned above, the Orion spacecraft performed as desired. According to NASA, it traveled “nearly 270,000 miles beyond the Moon and farther than any spacecraft built for humans has flown” to that date. The report further states that the tests carried out during Orion’s flight were successful, and its power production and consumption was more favorable than expected. Upon return to the Earth’s surface, the craft landed approximately 2.4 miles away from its targeted point. This was despite that point being adjusted 300 miles southward as a response to natural conditions.

Artemis II

NASA Official Picture of Artemis II Crew. Photographer: James Blair

NASA’s March analysis states that Orion returned to the Kennedy Space Center after retrieval, where its “avionics components earmarked for reuse on Artemis II were removed and refurbished for integration”, a process that has since been completed. Issues detected both during the spacecraft’s flight and upon inspection after retrieval are being studied so as to address them. NASA, as mentioned above, already has a proposed window of November 2024 for the launch of Artemis II. That will be the first mission planned for the spacecraft that will include a human crew.

Artemis II’s crew has been assembled by NASA as of April 2023. The mission commander is Reid Wiseman, and Victor Glover is the pilot. Christina Hammock Koch and Jeremy Hansen are mission specialists. This crew of four will depart on a ten-day mission in space, and will “venture around the Moon” as a test for the spacecraft. They shall pave the way for Artemis III’s Moon landing.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Authorities Receive Criticism for Maui Wildfire Response

The significant loss of life and destruction caused by the Maui wildfire...

Importance of Ocean Floor Raised by Seabed 2030

Earth’s ocean floors remain among the most poorly understood areas on the...

Classic Learning Test Adopted by Florida’s DeSantis Administration

Florida’s adoption of the Classic Learning Test (CLT) expands options for testing...

Hollywood Actors and Writers Continue to Strike Until Their Paid What They’re Worth

SAG-AFTRA actors and screenwriters continued to strike on Monday with their picket...