NASA announces 18 astronauts in its Artemis team | Space

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US Vice President Mike Pence announced last week (December 9, 2020) that NASA had selected 18 astronauts from his corps to form what it calls Team Artemis. Two of these astronauts are expected to become the first Americans to return to the moon since 1972. This manned lunar mission could be launched as early as 2024 (although there have been recent rumblings, the date could be pushed back. ). Pence introduced the Artemis team astronauts on December 9 to the 8th National Space Council meeting at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. You can see them introduce themselves in the video above (starting at around 1 minute).

NASA said it would announce flight assignments for the astronauts later, withdrawing from Team Artemis.

Here you will find the names and a brief biography of the members of the Artemis team.

Logo and graphic of the Artemis Moon program via NASA.

Meanwhile, despite a reported component failure on the cone-shaped Orion space capsule – the vehicle that will transport the astronauts – all indications so far are that the first Artemis mission, an unmanned mission, is still scheduled for the launch in November 2021 of the agency. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This mission will be Artemis 1.

The November 2021 launch will be a test of both the Orion capsule and the rocket intended to launch it, called the SLS, or Space Launch System.

The second Artemis mission – scheduled for 2023 – will test Orion’s critical systems with humans on board. It is expected to be the first crewed mission to travel beyond low earth orbit since Apollo 17 in 1972.

Then comes the Artemis 3 mission, the one that should bring astronauts back to the Moon, hopefully in 2024. The Artemis program is part of US President Donald Trump’s Space Policy Directive 1, approved in December 2017. The goal posted is to send back the American. astronauts on the Moon for the first time since 1972 and to:

… To lay the foundations for a possible mission to Mars.

The Artemis program is named after Apollo’s sister in Greek mythology.

EarthSky’s lunar calendar shows the phase of the moon for each day in 2021. Order yours before they’re gone! Makes a great gift.

An Orion spacecraft, traveling by truck, passes the vehicle assembly building at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base on November 11, 2014. Image via Tampa Bay Times.

In the Artemis 1 mission, the Orion Crew Module and SLS rocket are expected to be launched together from the historic Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center. The SLS – a more powerful rocket than the Saturn V that propelled the Apollo astronauts to the moon – will produce 8.8 million pounds of thrust (39 million Newtons) with its five boosters and four engines taking off to bring six million pounds (2.7 million kg). ) of the vehicle in orbit.

After releasing the boosters, the engines will stop and the central stage (main body) of the rocket will separate from the spaceship.

Next is a series of technical propulsion stages that will give Orion the strength to leave Earth orbit and head for the moon, but not before dropping a number of small satellites called CubeSats while he’s en route. . These CubeSats will perform a series of experiments and demonstrations unrelated to the Artemis mission in deep space, such as exposing living microorganisms to a radiation environment in deep space for the first time in over 40 years.

SLS Block 1 is pictured with Orion on a pad before launch in this artist rendition.

An artist rendering of SLS Block 1 with the Orion spacecraft on the platform before launch. Image via Wikipedia.

Once in lunar orbit, Orion will collect data and allow mission controllers to assess its performance for about a week. When he is ready to return home, Orion will use his space propulsion system provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) with the gravity of the moon, to return to Earth.

The ESA service module will provide – in addition to space propulsion – power, air and water to astronauts on future missions.

Approximately three weeks and over 1.3 million miles (2.1 million km) later, the Artemis 1 mission will end with a test of Orion’s return abilities directing him to a landing near a ship. salvage off the coast of Baja, California. It may all seem like a complex technical job. The NASA video below illustrates the entire Artemis 1 mission.

Although the coronavirus pandemic has slowed testing of SLS, the process is now resuming at the agency’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Boeing led the construction of the SLS megarocket and is now engaged in a testing process called the green race. This will culminate in a hot shot test, where the rocket fires its engines while it’s tied to the ground, and endures every step of a launch as if it really happened. This test was originally scheduled for November 2020 and is now scheduled for the end of December. This delay may leave little room to keep things on track for the launch of Artemis 1 in 2021.

After the hot fire test, the central stage will be refurbished and brought to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for even more testing. The development of Orion, led by Lockheed Martin and Airbus Defense and Space, has seen its own delays, although the spacecraft is on track to begin preparations for the launch of Artemis 1 in the first part of 2021.

The second mission – the crewed Orion capsule test mission, Artemis 2 – is scheduled for August 2023.

Future exploration missions by the crew aboard Orion will dock at Gateway, an outpost that NASA plans to build orbit around the moon to support a sustainable and long-term human return to the lunar surface. NASA Lunar Director Marshall Smith said:

We don’t need to take the giant leap at the same time. For a future mission, after demonstrating that we can get to the moon and operate a lander, we can then have them both dock with the gangway.

A space station in orbit, with the moon below.

Illustration of the Lunar Gateway outpost in orbit. The project is to build it with commercial and international partners. NASA said: “… the gateway is essential to sustainable lunar exploration and will serve as a model for future missions to Mars.” Learn more about Gateway.

Conclusion: NASA has selected 18 astronauts from its body to form what it calls the Artemis team. Two members of this team are expected to become the first Americans to return to the moon since 1972. The first Artemis mission – an unmanned test mission known as Artemis 1 – is still expected to launch in November. 2021. The Artemis program aims to bring humans back to the moon and ultimately to Mars.

Learn more about EarthSky: NASA will test its SLS mega-socket in the coming weeks

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