NASA’s Artemis 1 mission is scheduled for Monday (29). The 42-day unmanned journey will go beyond the Moon and return to Earth. This will be the longest distance ever traveled by a spacecraft in history.
This will be just the first part of the mission, which aims to get humans back to the Moon after 50 years. Astronauts are expected to set foot on the lunar surface again by 2025.
The mission can be followed from 7:30 am (Brasilia time) through official NASA channels. The launch window will be between 9:33 am to 11:33 am (Brasilia time).
The giant Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The four RS-25 engines, with two throttles on each side, will generate 15% more thrust than the Apollo Saturn V.
Two minutes after launch, the accelerators will fall into the Atlantic Ocean. After eight minutes, the main core of the rocket will detach and the Orion capsule will continue its journey. After completing Earth’s orbit, it will head to the Moon.
The Orion capsule — powered by a service module built by the European Space Agency (ESA) — was created to take astronauts on board in the future. Getting to the Moon will take several days and the closest approach will be about 100 km from Earth’s natural satellite.
The capsule will fire the engines to reach a “distant retrograde orbit” 40,000 miles beyond the Moon — a record distance for a spacecraft capable of carrying people.
“Far” refers to high altitude and “retrograde” to the fact that Orion will revolve around the Moon in the opposite direction to which the Moon orbits Earth. After approaching the Moon, Orion will begin the return.
The main objective of the mission is to test the capsule’s heat shield. At 5m in diameter, it is the largest ever built. Upon entering the atmosphere, it must withstand a speed of 40,000 km/h and temperatures of 2,760°C.
Thanks to several parachutes, it should fall smoothly into the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of San Diego, in the United States. Divers will tie cables to the capsule and tow it onto a US Navy vessel.
The capsule will carry a doll called Campos, in memory of the engineer who averted a tragedy on the Apollo 13 mission in 1968.
Campos will have sensors to record accelerations and vibrations and will be accompanied by two other dolls, Helga and Zojar, made with materials that imitate bones and organs. One will wear a radiation vest to test the impact of radioactivity in space.
What will be seen?
Many cameras will make it possible to observe the journey from various angles, including from a capsule passenger. Cameras on the solar panels will record selfies of the spacecraft with Earth and the Moon in the background.
Life will imitate art with a technological device called Callisto, inspired by the talking computer on the Starship Enterprise, the fictional spaceship in the series. Star Trekcreated in the 1960s, which showed the adventures of the ship’s crew.
This is an improved version of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, which will be triggered to adjust the capsule’s light or read flight data. The idea is to make life easier for future astronauts.
In addition to a dozen CubSats, shoebox-sized satellites will be launched from the top of the rocket for tasks such as studying asteroids, examining the effect of radiation on living organisms and looking for water on the Moon.
NASA reveals spectacular images captured by the James Webb telescope