NASA’s Artemis 1 mission almost achieves its goal after the Orion spacecraft successfully passed by the Moon and will now head to the Earth.
NASA officially launched the first Artemis mission to the Moon last month after many cancelations months prior. The capsule spent 15 days traversing along the scheduled path from the Earth to the Moon’s orbit, then back to our planet. It burst out of the Moon’s orbit on Thursday.
NASA hopes to capture several areas on the Moon, including lava beds and danger zones. Some areas have already been explored by astronauts back in the Apollo missions.
If all goes as planned, the Orion spacecraft will land on the Pacific Ocean, miles off the coast of San Diego, on December 11. The Artemis rocket was powered by NASA’s newest Space Launch System, the most powerful rocket to propel a capsule outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
Scientists at NASA expressed confidence that the first Artemis mission will provide them with more knowledge essential for the subsequent Artemis missions.
“The biggest test after the launch is the reentry because we want to know that that heat shield works at about 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 degrees Celsius), almost half as hot as the sun, coming in at 32 times the speed of sound (nearly 40,000 kilometers per hour),” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
Artemis I mission, a test
NASA did not permit a live person to embark on the first Artemis mission. The agency said it will still study the effects of the environment on the human body.
Aboard the Orion spacecraft is a specialized mannequin that can gather essential information to support life inside the craft. Moreover, NASA ensured the viability of their capsule and the new rocket system to prevent possible casualties for subsequent missions.
“The biggest test after the launch is the reentry because we want to know that that heat shield works at about 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 degrees Celsius), almost half as hot as the sun, coming in at 32 times the speed of sound (nearly 40,000 kilometers per hour),” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson
“The team performing the recovery operations is at sea right now performing just-in-time training,” added Michael Sarafin, the mission’s manager.
The success of the current Artemis mission will dictate the future of man’s next mission to the Moon. According to NASA, Artemis II will send humans to the Moon, traveling the same path as Artemis I.
However, they will not disembark from the craft. Meanwhile, NASA hinted that the Artemis III aims to send humans to the Moon and land on the surface of our nearest neighbor.
“Well, for once, I might be speechless. I have talked a lot about appreciating the moment that you’re in. And we have worked hard as a team. You guys have worked hard as a team to this moment. This is your moment,” said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, the launch director of the mission.
“As we embark on the first Artemis test flight, we recall this agency’s storied past. But our eyes are focused not on the immediate future but out there,” Nelson said months ago.
“It’s a future where NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon. And on these increasingly complex missions, astronauts will live and work in deep space. And we’ll develop the science and technology to send the first humans to Mars.”