DENVER (NASA PR) — Before NASA astronauts fly the Orion spacecraft on Artemis missions to the Moon and back, engineers needed to thoroughly test its ability to withstand the stresses of launch, climb to orbit, the harsh conditions of deep space transit, and return to Earth. NASA designed Orion from the beginning specifically to support astronauts on missions farther from Earth than any other spacecraft built for humans.
NASA’s Orion crew vehicle has made good progress over the past year, with the completion of a launch abort test and thermal vacuum testing on the spacecraft scheduled to an automated flight test around the moon next year, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Although Orion has suffered delays and budget overruns during development, the Space Launch System (SLS) that will send it to the moon is even more behind schedule due to development problems, the report found.
NASA’s Orion spacecraft for Artemis I returned to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 25 after engineers put it through the rigors of environmental testing at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio. At Kennedy, the spacecraft will undergo final processing and preparations prior to launching on the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to the Moon that will ultimately lead to the exploration of Mars.
The test campaign, which was completed ahead of schedule in mid-March, subjected the spacecraft to the extreme temperatures and electromagnetic conditions it will endure during its uncrewed test flight around the Moon and back to ensure it will perform as designed.
SANDUSKY, Ohio (ESA PR) — The first Orion spacecraft that will fly around the Moon as part of Artemis to return humans to the lunar surface has finished its space-environment tests at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio, USA.
The vehicle – that can transport up to four astronauts – consists of the European Service Module, the Crew Module and connecting adapter and all elements have now been given the stamp of approval for spaceflight after being subjected to the vacuum, extreme temperatures and electro-magnetic interference it will encounter during its trip to the Moon.
SANDUSKY, Ohio (ESA PR) — Testing one, two and now, three.
Radio frequency testing has begun on the first Orion spacecraft that will fly around the Moon for the Artemis 1 mission, just two weeks after thermal and environmental tests were completed at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio, USA.
NASA’s Orion spacecraft, a critical part of the agency’s Artemis I mission, has completed three months of testing at the agency’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio. During the testing, the craft was subjected to the extreme temperatures and electromagnetic environment it will experience in its upcoming test mission to the Moon.
NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurcyk said on Friday that the first Artemis mission to the moon will not launch later this year but will hopefully fly in the mid- to late 2021 time frame.
It marks yet another delay in a program that is already running years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. The slip potentially makes the Trump Administration’s goal of landing astronauts at the south pole of the moon in 2024 more difficult to achieve.
Video Caption: The first flight of the Artemis programme, which will see humans return to the Moon, is scheduled to begin soon.
The lunar spacecraft consists of NASA’s Orion crew module and the European Service Module, or ESM. Developed by ESA and building on technology from its Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), the ESM will provide propulsion, life support, environmental control and electrical power to Orion.
The Artemis 1 spacecraft modules are undergoing thermal vacuum and electromagnetic interference tests in the world’s largest space simulation vacuum chamber at the Glenn Research Centre’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, USA.