Meet the Spaceship Taking Humans Back to the Moon

    NASA plans to send humans back to the moon in the upcoming year. Their ride of the twenty-first century.

    The European Space Agency assisted in building the four-passenger Orion spacecraft. They recently shared a picture of the towering vessel. Before moving it to a test room, they captured its image. In the test room, the spacecraft will undergo exposure to harsh, space-like conditions.

    Image Credits

    The Orion vehicle, designated for Artemis II, is currently undergoing preparations at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. This mission will mark the first time in over 50 years that humans will travel around the Moon and return. The European Space Agency made this announcement.

    Astronauts will use NASA’s massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for the upcoming Artemis II mission. The SLS is more powerful than the Saturn V rocket, which previously launched humans to the Moon. In this mission, astronauts will not land on the Moon. Instead, they will orbit it. After orbiting, they will ignite their engines to return to Earth. They will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at temperatures reaching 5,000 degrees. If Artemis II is successful, it will pave the way for the Artemis III mission. Artemis III aims to land on the Moon in September 2026. The astronauts will spend nearly a week on the lunar surface.

    The Orion craft below comprises four parts stacked together:

    • Crew module: The crew module, where astronauts will reside throughout their space mission, is located up top.
    • Crew module adapter: This section links the crew module to the European Service Module, the vital component underneath.
    • Service Module: This is known by ESA as the “powerhouse of Orion.” It supplies water, air, energy, propulsion, and thermal control, according to the agency.
    • Spacecraft adaptor: This conical section at the bottom joins Orion to the formidable SLS rocket.

    NASA rescheduled the launch of Artemis II from later in 2024 to September 2025 in order to resolve a few issues. The organization puts safety over expediency since there is life aboard, and they are all too aware of how a flight disaster may become tragic.

    In an agency statement earlier this year, NASA’s deputy associate administrator of Exploration Systems Development, Amit Kshatriya, stated, “Crew safety is and will remain our number one priority.”

    Image Credits

    The unanticipated damage to Orion’s heat shield that transpired during the unmanned Artemis I flight is very concerning. During the high heat and friction during the shield’s fiery descent through Earth’s atmosphere, a few small parts broke off instead of the shield eroding normally. “Teams have taken a methodical approach to understand the issue, including extensive sampling of the heat shield, testing, and review of data from sensors and imagery,” NASA said.

    NASA’S Future Goals

    NASA’s goals now diverge significantly from those of the famed Apollo missions more than half a century ago as the impending Artemis missions onboard Orion begin to take off. This time, NASA plans to build a long-term base on the moon and its environs. Additionally, astronauts will travel to the lunar south pole for the first time, a region that scientists believe to be rich in water ice, a vital resource for any moon colony that needs water and fuel.

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