NASA sends its unmanned Artemis mission to the moon in February 2022

NASA has confirmed that it will return to the moon early next year and announced that the Artemis-I unmanned mission will start in February 2022.

This week the agency completed the stacking of its Orion spacecraft on the Space Launch System, the world’s most powerful rocket. The Orion ship has been lifted onto the missile and secured in place, and testing can now begin ahead of next year’s launch.

NASA’s Orion spacecraft is completely stacked on top of the Space Launch System rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA

“It’s hard to put into words what this milestone means, not just for us here at Exploration Ground Systems, but for all of the incredibly talented people who have worked so hard to help us get there,” Mike Bolger, Exploration Ground Systems program manager, said in a statement. “Our team showed enormous commitment in preparing for the start of Artemis I. Although there is still a lot to be done to get started, with ongoing integrated testing and the wet dress rehearsal, it is certainly a reward for all of us to see the fully stacked SLS. “.”

The test consists of five separate test campaigns that cover the interfaces between different spacecraft systems, check specific systems such as the booster thrust control, test communication between the spacecraft and the ground, test the countdown to the launch system and finally a “wet dress rehearsal” . “During the wet dress rehearsal, the rocket is filled with fuel, just like in a real launch, and the rocket is rolled out to the launch pad to practice the launch countdown. When the countdown is up, the practice fuel will be removed in case the start is scrubbed at the last minute.

In the Artemis 1 mission, Orion will be launched from Earth on a path towards the moon and will be en route for several days, during which engineers on the ground can check systems such as navigation and communication. It flies 62 miles above the lunar surface, then uses the moon’s gravity to move into orbit for six days and collect data before returning to Earth.

The idea is to test missiles and systems before a manned mission to orbit the moon known as Artemis II, followed by a manned landing on the moon known as Artemis III.

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