On November 16, 2022, Artemis I was launched in the small hours of the morning, the first step in NASA’s goal to bring humans back to the moon.
Yesterday, after a 26-day journey the Orion capsule splashed down off the coast of California in the Pacific Ocean, completing its voyage around the moon and back.
What is the Orion capsule?
The Orion capsule is NASA’s new exploration spacecraft, the first of its kind in a generation.
It was designed to carry astronauts in a new era of space exploration, provide emergency abort capability, sustain crew members during space travel and provide safe re-entry from return velocities.
A new Orion capsule will be made for future missions but to save money NASA will reuse some of the electronics equipment, known as avionics, from the Artemis I Orion capsule.
What are the aims of the Artemis I mission?
The main goal for the first Artemis mission is to test the Orion’s systems in flight and safely return it to earth.
Artemis I is an uncrewed test flight, though not totally devoid of passengers.
Commander Moonikin Campos, NASA’s specially suited mannequin that will collect data from internal sensors, was onboard.
The data collected will be sent to scientists and engineers to aid in learning what astronauts will experience in a journey to the moon.
What are the next steps for NASA?
Artemis II will be the first mission with astronauts onboard.
NASA hasn’t announced who will be flying yet but confirmed there will be four astronauts aboard.
Three will be from NASA, and one will be Canadian as part of the agreement with the Canadian Space Agency’s participation in the project.
The second mission won’t see these four land on the moon but will give them the time to get used to the Orion systems.
The biggest event in NASA’s future is the launch of the Artemis III mission.
This will see two astronauts stay on the moon for a week after the crew lands on the Moon’s south polar region.
The mission, due to take place before 2025 is also intended to be the first to place a woman and a person of colour on the Moon.
What is NASA’s main goal?
Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson said: “During Apollo we did the impossible by making it possible.
“Now, we are doing that again, but for a different purpose, because this time we go back to the Moon to learn to live, to work, to invent, to create, in order to go on out into the cosmos to further explore.
“The plan is to get ready to go with humans to Mars late in the decade of the 2030s, and then even further beyond.”
So simply put, deep space exploration.
With the introduction of the Orion spacecraft built for deep-space exploration, NASA aim to go further than humans have ever gone before.