Will the third attempt be the right one? The new nasa mega rocket It is expected to take off overnight, Tuesday through Wednesday, at 1:04 am local time (7:04 am French time) from Florida. The weather promises to be favourable, with a possible two-hour filming window. 🇧🇷Our time will come and we hope it will be Wednesday.”, said Mike Sarafin, head of the mission, on Monday night. He praised theperseverance” of its crews, who had to recover after two failed takeoff attempts this summer, then two hurricanes. This mission is to launch the great American program of back to the moonbaptized Artemis. Other missions, increasingly more delicate, will take place before the final objective: go to mars🇧🇷 Summary of steps.
Artemis 1: test flight
The Artemis Mission 1
must test unmanned NASA’s new giant rocket, dubbed the SLS, and the Orion capsule on top of it, to ensure they can safely transport astronauts into the future. Orion will orbit around the Moon, without landing, before returning to Earth. The spacecraft should only approach 100 km from the Moon.
Objective number 1 is test the capsule’s heat shield, the largest ever built (5 meters in diameter). When it returns to Earth’s atmosphere, it will have to withstand a speed of 40,000 km/h and a temperature of 2,800°C. The spacecraft will be slowed to 480 km/h by the atmosphere, then 32 km/h by a series of parachutes, until it lands in the Californian city of San Diego. Divers will attach cables to it to tow it inside a US Navy ship in a few hours.
The capsule will carry a dummy called Moonikin Campos, installed in the commander’s seat and dressed in the new NASA suit. It will record the acceleration and the vibrations suffered. Also on board: two busts of women, named Helga and Zohar, made from materials that mimic human bones and organs. One will be wearing a radiation jacket, the other will not. The sensors will make it possible to assess the levels of radiation received, which are higher in deep space than in Earth orbit.
This first mission must last 25 and a half days in total🇧🇷
Artemis 2: First Crew
Scheduled for 2024, Artemis 2 will carry astronauts to the moon, but without landing there, as Apollo 8 had done. The capsule will fly over the Moon without technically placing itself in orbit around it. Crew composition should be announced by the end of the year. We already know that a Canadian will be part of it and thus become the first to go into deep space.
Artemis 3: moon landing
This third mission can be compared to Apollo 11: it will be the first of the program to land astronauts on the moon🇧🇷 They will arrive for the first time at the South Pole of the Moon, where the presence of water in the form of ice was confirmed, and not near the equator as during Apollo. Artemis 3 is officially scheduled for 2025 but, according to an independent public audit, it should happen in 2026 “As soon as possible“. Starting from Artemis 3, NASA wants to launch about one task per year🇧🇷
NASA selected SpaceX to build the Artemis 3 lander. Specifically, this lander will be transported between the Orion capsule placed in orbit around the Moon and the lunar surface. The capsule carrying four astronauts will dock with the landing module, which will be responsible for lowering two of them to the surface, lifting them a few days later. It is then aboard Orion that they will all return to Earth.
This lander, sent separately by SpaceX, will be a version of the Starship spacecraft, which has so far only performed suborbital tests. To reach Earth orbit, it will need to be propelled by the Super Heavy first-stage rocket, also under development. Before it can travel to the Moon, it will have to refuel by refueling directly in space from another Starship, previously fueled – a highly dangerous transfer never before tested. For the continuation of the Artemis program, NASA has launched a new public notice with other companies for the development of additional landing modules.
The Gateway Space Station
The Artemis program also includes the construction of a station in orbit around the Moon, called Gateway🇧🇷 The launch of the first two elements – a housing module and the propulsion system – is scheduled for the end of 2024 at the earliest by a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
The following modules will be launched by SLS at the same time as Orion and its crew, responsible for assembling them at their destination. The astronauts will stay there between 30 and 60 days. Eventually, a lander will be docked there to allow them to descend from the station to the Moon. The Gateway will also serve as a stop before future trips to Mars.
The target: March
Paradoxically, the star really at the center of the Artemis program is not the Moon, but Mars. With the creation of a base on the surface of the Moon, NASA wants to test the technologies needed to send humans to the red planet : new combinations, vehicle to move around, mini power plant, use of lunar water…
The idea is to learn how to establish a lasting human presence away from Earth, without being too far from it. In case of trouble, the Moon is just a few days away. March, several months.