NASA is preparing for its third attempt to reach the Moon, to be launched in November, after aborting the first two attempts of the Artemis-1 mission. The American space agency will launch humans and rovers to the Moon after Artemis-1 which is designed to last longer than the Apollo-era astronauts.
Astronauts will be trained to walk on the moon by running in the desert first, for lunar simulation to train humans and rovers to function on the moon. To simulate a lunar surface environment, the American space agency will perform two multi-week field tests in the deserts of Arizona.
According to NASA, astronauts, engineers, and scientists will train in a desert environment that is similar to the lunar environment, which may have challenging terrain, interesting geology, and minimal communication infrastructure.
NASA stated, “The two analog missions scheduled for October 2022, the Joint Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility Program Test Team (JETT) Field Test #3 and Desert Research and Technology Study (D-RATS), will provide crucial data and lessons learned as teams conduct operations in a simulated lunar environment to practice for the real event.”
In JETT3, astronauts will perform four simulated moonwalks along with other planned operations that will be executed on the Moon as a part of the Artemis-III mission. This is necessary to give engineers and the Artemis team knowledge of the unique lighting conditions at the lunar South Pole region.
The training will take place in the SP Crater from Tuesday till October 9. NASA said, “Astronauts Drew Feustel and Zena Cardman will serve as the crewmember for the four moonwalks and will traverse within an approximate one-mile circle wearing mockup spacesuit systems.” NASA further added, “A flight control teal will lead the simulated moonwalks from the Mission Control Centre at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, and will be joined by a science team that will analyze the astronauts’’ simulated moonwalks in real-time.”
The D-RATS training aims for future missions after Artemis III and consists of three missions to be conducted from October 11–22 at Black Lava Flow, near SP Crater. The engineers will work on pressurized rover operations.
“Pressurized rovers are like recreational vehicles, commonly known as RVs, safely housing astronauts for weeks at a time, complete with all the air, water, food, hygiene equipment, and tools they need on their trek across the lunar surface. Astronauts can live and work comfortably inside the rover, exiting the vehicle to collect samples or deploy experiments,” NASA said.
NASA seeks to build a permanent mission on the Moon and the training is meant to prepare astronauts for the lengthy tasks needed to fulfill the mission.