NASA to conduct key tests for its return to the moon

The Artemis 1 mission, which will soon lay the groundwork for Americans to return to the moon around 2025, is approaching a critical phase of its testing protocol that will determine all of NASA’s next deadlines.

In a press conference broadcast by Space.com, NASA finally unveils the Final phase of Artemis 1 test flight. As you might expect, this one has been delayed a bit, but the first deadline is starting to become clearer this spring.

Initially, the agency hoped to launch the first test flight of Artemis 1 without a crew as early as April. It now hopes to make that happen by May, but that delay may not be enough either, according to Tom Whitmire, co-manager of NASA’s exploration systems. “We continue to assess the viability of the May window, but we also recognize that we still have a lot of work to do,” he admitted.

NASA still relies on the dance of the planets

In fact, as with space missions, especially interplanetary missions, launches cannot take place at any time. It is necessary to wait until the optimum conditions are met, in particular the positions of the two celestial bodies relative to each other; then we speak of “window“. That means starting the equipment at the right speed and the right trajectory at the right time, otherwise you’ll have to do a gas-guzzling correction, so it’s unacceptable from a logistical point of view.

SLS is a hell of a juggernaut and should be tested carefully. © NASA

This window is also defined by other auxiliary logistics parameters. For example, the Orion capsule runs on solar energy, but it can only accumulate 90 minutes of reserve. Therefore, it was necessary to ensure that the launch took place when the machine would not remain in the shadow of the Earth for more than an hour and a half.

In this particular case, the optimal conditions will not be met until May 7th and May 21st. If not ready in time, the agency will be forced to push the test to the next window; it runs from June 6 to 16. If this is also exceeded, you will again need to wait until early July.

First test under near-real conditions

So NASA hopes to make progress quickly so as not to push this deadline too far. From now on, the first task is to complete the first rehearsal of the Orion capsule in near-real conditions. She will be on top of the Space Launch System launcher. Eventually, it will take short trips around the moon with scientific equipment.

In particular, engineers will have to deal with a series ofwet clothes rehearsal”. This is a crucial step; indeed, this is a test that the vehicle will also board All fluids required for propulsion. This includes in particularLiquid oxygen and hydrogen.

The goal is to confirm the tightness and reliability of all systems that will receive these fluids on the machine.Then it is necessary to check Under these conditions, all other systems operate as expected Closer to the real takeoff.Ideally, NASA wants to make this happen from March next year.

SpaceX’s Starship will star in the third part of the Artemis mission, which is expected to return astronauts to the moon by 2025. © SpaceX

2025 target moon

If these tests are conclusive, NASA will pass a major milestone in returning it to the moon. She will then be able to take her first real test flight in peace.it will also mark Getting started with Artemis 2. The second mission will put astronauts into lunar orbit, which will be the last major step before 2025.

It was on this day that the responsible Artemis 3 mission finally hopes to reach the moon. But this time, Orion and SLS won’t be in the game; astronauts will still board SpaceX-printed astronauts despite the endless legal soap opera between Elon Musk and NASA and Jeff Bezos equipment. Therefore, it is necessary to pay special attention to these tests, which will determine the entire timetable of these grand tasks.

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