Wednesday, July 6

NASA animations depict the long-awaited Artemis I mission | Digital Trends Spanish

The POT is inching closer to carrying out its first manned lunar missions in 50 years as part of the Artemis program, but first it has to test the spaceflight hardware that supports the effort.

To share the space program with more people, NASA has just released three video explanations (below) describing the upcoming mission. Artemis I in simple terms.

For the uninitiated, Artemis I will make an uncrewed flyby of the moon as part of preparations for the subsequent manned Artemis II mission, which will take the same path. If both missions go well, Artemis III will put the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface possibly in 2025, marking the first manned lunar landing since the final Apollo mission in 1972.

The current plan is to launch Artemis I using NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft in a mission that could take place as early as this summer.

The first animation shows how the SLS rocket will propel the Orion spacecraft toward the moon at the start of the Artemis I mission, with the rocket’s first stage falling shortly after launch.

As the second video shows, when Orion approaches the moon, gravity will pull it toward the lunar surface. At an altitude of 60 miles, Mission Control will fire Orion’s engines to send it into what’s known as a distant retrograde orbit (DRO) about 40,000 miles above the moon’s surface.

Once it reaches the target altitude for DRO, a second engine burn will stabilize the spacecraft in its new orbit.

The Orion will remain at DRO for six days, giving NASA ample time to collect data from the spacecraft as part of efforts to assess its performance.

NASA plans to put astronauts on the Orion spacecraft from Artemis II onwards, so a key part of the test mission is safely returning the spacecraft to Earth. To do this, Mission Control will restart Orion’s engines to get it out of the DRO and back to the moon. At an altitude of 60 miles, a second engine burn will combine with the moon’s gravity to propel the spacecraft on a path back to Earth on a journey that will take five days.

The spacecraft will hit Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of about 25,000 mph, putting a lot of stress on the underside of the vehicle during its descent. But its specially designed heat shield, along with the parachutes that the Orion will deploy shortly before landing, appear ready to ensure a safe return home.

NASA is poised to conduct final tests on the SLS rocket this month before an Artemis I launch scheduled for August.

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