NASA now targeting February 2022 for its Artemis I mission

Asia's Tech News Daily

NASA now targeting February 2022 for its Artemis I mission
© Suhasini Jha NASA now targeting February 2022 for its Artemis I mission

NASA said on October 23 that it is now targeting February 2022 for its uncrewed Artemis 1 mission. According to the space agency, the delay was caused by several reasons, including cost overruns, lawsuits and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency had plans to launch the test flight by the end of this year, with astronauts set to walk on the Moon by 2024.

“The February launch period opens on the 12th and our last opportunity in February is on the 27th,” AFP quoted Mike Sarafin, Artemis 1 mission manager as saying.

These potential launch periods are dependent on orbital mechanics and the relative position of the Earth with respect to the Moon. The mission duration is expected to be four to six weeks. The next windows are in March and April, added the news report.

The space agency is seeking to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon as well as use the lessons it learns to plan a crewed trip to Mars in the 2030s.

The Artemis program will see the first woman and first person of color step foot on the lunar surface. NASA will also deploy small satellites, known as CubeSats, to perform experiments and technology demonstrations.

Artemis 1 is the first step while Artemis 2 is scheduled for 2023 and Artemis 3 for the following year, when humans will walk on the Moon for the first time since 1972. Both missions are now likely to be pushed back, however.

NASA achieved a major milestone when it stacked the Orion crew capsule atop the SLS megarocket ‘just before midnight October 21,’ the space agency said in a recent statement.

Orion first flew into space in 2014, launched by a Delta IV rocket, making two circumnavigations of Earth and testing its heat shield on re-entry into the atmosphere.

But this time, NASA’s Sarafin said, the capsule will travel much faster and the temperature will be much higher when it returns from the Moon.

Artemis 1 has several objectives: to demonstrate Orion’s ability to return from the Moon and operate in deep space where it is “much colder than in low Earth orbit,” and to successfully recover the spacecraft, he added.

The mission also plans to study radiation and take selfies of the capsule with the Moon in the background.

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