NASA launched the Artemis I mission on Wednesday from Florida, with the American space agency’s mega Moon rocket commencing on a month-and-a-half-long journey.
As of yet, the mission has been according to the plan, reaching orbit around the Earth, however, the journey is marked with multiple challenges ahead.
Artemis I schedule in Space
This is the third attempt by NASA to launch Artemis I on a moon mission. The Space Launch System (SLS) had a two-hour launch window from the Kennedy Space Centre.
The uncrewed mission of the SLS, a heavy-lift expendable launch vehicle, has the Orion capsule on board for NASA’s lunar program. According to the mission, Artemis I is set to orbit near the moon instead of landing on it and returning to Earth.
Artemis I is set to travel for 42 days and cover around 1.3 million miles. In the process, the Orion spacecraft will detach from the SLS booster and depart Earth’s orbit for the moon. Before entering a wide orbit around the moon, NASA intends to fly Orion as near as 60 miles above its surface. Orion will utilize the moon’s gravity to help it plot a route back into Earth’s orbit on its way back.
In the previous week, NASA weather tested the SLS and Orion by setting them on the launchpad to check on the wind of Hurricane Nicole. NASA then revealed that the rocket and the spacecraft were not damaged by the storm.
According to the report, a 10-foot section of insulation close to the Orion capsule had pulled away due to the strong winds. However, NASA decided to move forward with the launch attempt after an analysis revealed that it was unlikely that any significant damage would result if the insulation were to come off during the launch.
The 322-foot (98-meter) rocket, the most potent rocket ever created by NASA, is making its first test flight. NASA’s first attempt to launch Artemis I was in August but it called off various attempts since then after finding out technical issues with the engines. This will be the maiden test flight of NASA’s new SLS megarocket and the Orion capsule.
NASA sends manikins, snoopy dog onboard Artemis I
The Orion might not be crewed with humans but it has onboard Snoopy, Girl Scout badges, LEGO mini figures, and tree seeds among many other mementos on the mission.
As NASA has plans to launch humans to the moon in 2025, the current preparations will feature manikins, a jointed model of the human body used for various purposes. The manikin, Commander Moonikin Campos was so named due to a public contest and was named after Arturo Campos, the NASA engineer who was instrumental in getting the Apollo 13 crew back to Earth safely.
Moonikin Campos will be placed in the commander’s seat. The seat has sensors measuring acceleration and vibration under it to gauge what humans would experience during a flight. It will also wear a spacesuit that contains two radiation sensors. Along with Campos, there will be two other manikins alongside it.
As the mission is also about measurements and radiation detection, NASA has put what it calls phantoms, namely Helga and Zohar which are manikin torsos made up of materials that mimic human bones, soft tissues, and adult female organs.
NASA has also sent Snoopy, the black and white dog created by American cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, on Artemis I. The dog will act as a weightlessness indicator to let the ground crew know when the spacecraft has achieved weightlessness.