NASA is just over a week away from the first launch of its Next Generation Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on a mission that will mark the beginning of a new era of space exploration.
Sitting atop an SLS rocket when it lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on August 29, an unmanned Orion spacecraft, which will also make its first flight.
As part of the Artemis I mission, the spacecraft will travel more than 250,000 miles to the Moon, fly close to our nearest neighbor and approach its surface 62 miles away before returning to Earth 42 days after launch.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has built the Orion service module, an essential part of the spacecraft that sits under the crew capsule and serves as the vehicle’s primary power and propulsion component.
To highlight the service module’s capabilities, the European Space Agency recently shared an animation (below) that also reveals the exact path and orbits Orion will make during its long test flight. You can watch it below:
“Orion will remain in space longer than any astronaut ship has done without docking to a space station, and it will return home faster and hotter than ever before,” NASA He said.
This month’s Artemis I mission is designed to test the Artemis II rocket and spacecraft, a mission roughly the same as Artemis I except for the occasion when astronauts travel aboard Orion.
If this continues without a hitch, NASA will be able to make final preparations for the ambitious Artemis III flight that will put the first woman and first people of color on the moon in what will also be the first manned visit since the last Apollo flight. Landing in 1972.
NASA says Artemis III won’t happen until 2025, and it is well aware that the feasibility of its plans depends heavily on the success of this month’s long-awaited mission.
Looking to the future, NASA’s Artemis program will seek to build the first lunar base for long-term crew stays in the same way that astronauts currently do. Living and working on the International Space Station. Then, using what it learned from its lunar missions, NASA aims to embark on what will be the most daring manned mission in its 64-year history — to put astronauts on Mars sometime in the 2030s.
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