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NASA’s Orion spacecraft launches on the Artemis I flight test mission to the moon

NASA’s SLS rocket and Orion embark on their first voyage together

by The Business Pinnacle
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NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) successfully launched the most powerful rocket in the world, the agency’s Orion spacecraft is on its path to the Moon as a portion of the Artemis system. The spacecraft carried an uncrewed Orion, SLS lifted off for its flight test debut on Wednesday at 1:47 a.m. EST from NASA’s Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The launch is the initial step of a mission in which Orion is scheduled to travel nearly 40,000 miles beyond the Moon and return to Earth in the course of 25.5 days. Known as Artemis I, the mission is a significant portion of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, helping the agency plan for human exploration on the Moon. It’s a crucial test for them before flying astronauts on the Artemis II mission.

An incredible sight to see NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft launch together for the first time. said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

This uncrewed flight test will drive Orion to the boundaries in the rigors of deep space, helping the agency prepare for human exploration on the Moon and, eventually, Mars added Nelson.

After achieving its initial orbit, Orion deployed its solar arrays and engineers set out to perform checkouts of the spacecraft’s systems. Around 1.5 hours into the flight, the rocket’s upper stage engine effectively fired for approximately 18 minutes to give Orion the massive force required to send it out of Earth orbit and toward the Moon.

Orion has separated from its upper stage and is on its outbound coast to the Moon operated by its service module, which is the propulsive powerhouse offered by European Space Agency through an international partnership.

Orion’s service module will also perform the first of a series of burns to keep Orion on a path toward the Moon nearly eight hours after launch. In the upcoming days, mission controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will conduct additional checkouts and course modifications as required. Orion is anticipated to fly by the Moon on November 21, performing a close approach to the lunar surface on its way to a distant retrograde orbit, an extremely stable orbit a great distance beyond the Moon.

The Space Launch System rocket delivered the power and performance to transmit Orion on its way to the Moon, said Mike Sarafin, Mission Manager for Artemis I in NASA.

With the completion of the first major milestone of the mission, Orion will now embark on the next level to test its systems and prepare for future missions with astronauts, Sarafin added.

NASA to land the first woman on the surface of the Moon

The SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft arrived at Kennedy’s Launch Pad 39B on November 04, where they pushed out Hurricane Nicole. Following the storm, teams performed detailed evaluations of the rocket, spacecraft, and related ground systems and confirmed no substantial effects from the harsh weather.

On September 26 ahead of Hurricane Ian and after waving off two previous launch attempts on August 29, Engineers earlier rolled the rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) due to a faulty temperature sensor, and on September 04 due to a liquid hydrogen leak at an interface between the rocket and mobile launcher. Earlier to rolling back to the VAB, teams effectively restored the leak and exhibited revised tanking procedures. Though in the VAB, teams performed standard maintenance to repair minor damage to the cork and foam on the thermal protection system and replace or recharge batteries all over the system.

Artemis I is backed by many individuals worldwide, from contractors who built Orion and SLS, and the ground infrastructure required to launch them, to university and international partners, and small organizations supplying subsystems and modules.

Through Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of colour on the surface of the Moon, paving the way for long-term lunar exploration and operating as a foothold for astronauts on the way to Mars.

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