What you should know about SLS, Orion

What you should know about SLS, Orion
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NASA plans to launch the Artemis I mission on Monday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sending the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule on a more than month-long journey around the moon. —

The uncrewed launch marks the debut of the most powerful rocket ever assembled and kicks off NASA’s long-awaited return to the moon’s surface. It is the first mission in NASA’s Artemis lunar program, which is expected to take the agency’s astronauts to the moon on their third mission in 2025.

While Artemis I won’t carry astronauts or land on the moon, the mission is critical to proving that NASA’s monster rocket and space capsule can deliver on its promised abilities. Artemis I has been delayed for years, with the program billions over budget.

NASA’s Artemis I Moon rocket is deployed at Launch Pad Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on August 16, 2022.

Chandan Khanna | AFP | fake images

The Artemis I mission represents a crucial turning point in NASA’s lunar plans.

Despite delays and absorbing much of NASA’s relatively small budget by federal agency standards, the Artemis program has enjoyed strong bipartisan political support.

Officials in 2012 estimated that the SLS rocket would cost $6 billion to develop, debut in 2017, and be priced at $500 million per launch. But the rocket has only just debuted, as it cost more than $20 billion to develop, and its per launch price tag has ballooned to $4.1 billion.

NASA’s Inspector General, its internal auditor, said earlier this year that Artemis is not the “sustainable” lunar program that agency officials say it is. The watchdog found that more than $40 billion has already been spent on the program, projecting that NASA would spend $93 billion on the effort through 2025, when the first landing is planned.

But even that 2025 date is in doubt, according to NASA’s Inspector General, who said the developmental technologies needed to land on the moon’s surface are unlikely to be ready before 2026, at the earliest.

NASA’s Artemis plan also builds on the success of another monster rocket: SpaceX’s Starship. Last year, the agency awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to develop a moon-specific version of the rocket to serve as the crew’s lunar lander for the Artemis III mission.

SpaceX began testing its Starship spacecraft in earnest in 2019, but that The rocket has not yet reached orbit..

Hardware, infrastructure, and software for NASA’s Artemis I are supported by a host of aerospace contractors in the US: boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Aerojet Rocketdyne Y Jacobs direct the effort. According to NASA, the Artemis program supports about 70,000 jobs across the country.

Various NASA centers are also involved, beyond Kennedy as a launch site, including the DC headquarters, Marshall in Alabama, Stennis in Mississippi, Ames in California, and Langley in Virginia.

In case technical problems or the weather delay the 8th of August. 29 launch attempt, NASA has backup launch dates scheduled for September 1. September 2 and 5.

Here’s what you need to know about the launch:

The Rocket: SLS

NASA’s SLS lunar megarocket topped by the Orion spacecraft departs the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center on its way to Launch Complex 39B for a launch rehearsal March 17, 2022 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. .

Paul Hennessy | Anadolu Agency fake images

Rising to the height of a 322-foot skyscraper, the SLS rocket is a complex vehicle built with technologies used and enhanced from NASA’s Space Shuttle and Apollo programs.

With full fuel, the SLS weighs 5.7 million pounds and produces up to 8.8 million pounds of thrust, 15% more than the Saturn V rockets of the last century. SLS uses four RS-25 liquid-fuel engines, which flew on the space shuttle before being refurbished and upgraded, as well as a pair of solid rocket boosters.

The SLS core stage gets its orange color from the thermal protection system that covers it, which is spray foam insulation. For the first three Artemis missions, NASA is using a variation of SLS known as Block 1. For later missions, NASA plans to deploy an even more powerful variation, known as Block 1B.

The capsule: Orion

NASA Orion spacecraft

Source: NASA

NASA’s Orion capsule can carry four astronauts on missions of up to 21 days without docking with another spacecraft. Its core is the crew module, which is designed to withstand the harsh conditions of deep space flight.

After launch, Orion is powered and propelled by the European Service Module, which was built by the European Space Agency and contractor Airbus.

For Artemis I, there will be three mannequins inside the Orion capsule to collect data via sensors about what astronauts will experience on the journey to and from the moon. The return to Earth will be especially crucial, as Orion will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at about 25,000 miles per hour. A heat shield protects Orion’s exterior, and a set of parachutes will slow it down for landing in the ocean.

The mission around the moon

NASA’s Luna Artemis I rocket sits on Launch Pad Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on June 15, 2022.

Eva Marie Uzcategui | AFP | fake images

Artemis I will travel around 1.3 million miles over the course of 42 days, spanning several phases. After separating from SLS, the capsule will deploy solar panels and begin a multi-day journey to the moon, departing from Earth’s orbit in what is known as a “translunar injection.”

NASA plans to fly Orion as close as 60 miles above the moon’s surface, before moving in a wide orbit around the lunar body. To return, Orion will use the moon’s gravity to help it set a trajectory back to Earth’s orbit.

Orion is expected to splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego, California, where a team from NASA and Department of Defense personnel will recover the capsule.

In addition to the dummies aboard Orion, Artemis I carries various payloads, such as cube satellites, technology demonstrations, and scientific research.

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