The 50th anniversary celebrations of NASA were not limited to only remembrances of achievements made in the past. NASA, the space agency also marked the day by authenticating that the Orion crew capsule. Orion crew capsule will bring astronauts back to the Moon for the first time from the end of the Apollo program is all set for its first trip to lunar orbit, at present set for a little bit after June 2020.
Orion won’t be carrying anybody for its first Moon mission, in its place, as an element of Artemis 1, it will fly uncrewed propelled by the latest Space Launch System, spend total three weeks in space including six days orbiting the Moon and then finally come back to the earth. Once back it will perform a vital test of high speed re-entry into the atmosphere of Earth for showing the effectiveness of the Orion capsule’s thermal shielding before carrying authentic crew for Artemis 2 in 2023, and finally delivering astronauts back to the lunar surface with Artemis 3 in the year 2024.
The plans for Artemis also consist of building a small moon-orbiting space station called the Gateway. This will provide a staging point for trips, both unscrewed and crewed to the lunar surface.
This is not the first trip of Orion to space, though that happened back in the year 2014 with Exploration Flight Test 1. It was one more uncrewed mission, in which Orion spent only 4 hours in space, orbiting the Earth two times and then come back to the ground. This mission used a Delta IV rocket in place of new SLS and was intended to test key systems earlier to Artemis.
Lockheed Martin, NASA contractor responsible for the construction of Orion spacecraft also noting that the combined service module and crew module are at present being properly integrated, and afterward it will undergo a sequence of tests before coming back to Kennedy Space Center in Florida by the end of the year for starting the final preparations previous to launch. This test flight will make sure whether the two modules can survive in the deep space environment or not.
Mike Pence, Vice-President of United States of America said in an announcement, ‘All thanks to the hard work of the men and women working in NASA as well as of American industry, the Orion crew vehicle for the Artemis 1 mission is complete and prepared to start planning for its momentous first flight’.
European Space Agency (ESA) is also supporting NASA as the Orion will have a European Service Module, which will give power as well as the forward motion to the spacecraft during the mission and this is also complete.
As per the press statement of NASA, 50 years ago the aim was to verify that the agency could land humans on the Moon and return them securely to Earth, but in the year 2024 the revisit to Moon is, in fact, to prepare for the after that big leap, which would be sending astronauts to Mars for the first time ever in the history. Source .