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Luna, for NASA ‘one step closer to the launch of Artemis’ – Science & Technology

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Luna, for NASA ‘one step closer to the launch of Artemis’ – Science & Technology
Written by aquitodovale

“We are one step closer to launch”: it is with satisfaction that NASA announces the completion of the test campaign of the super rocket SLS (Space Launch System) for the return to the Moon. The rehearsal of the countdown, conducted last Monday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, produced useful and sufficient data to look with optimism at the launch by the summer of the first mission of the Artemis program, namely Artemis I, the first flight without crew that will pave the way for the return of the man with the first woman on the moon.

“During the dress rehearsal – says Tom Whitmeyer, associate deputy administrator for the development of exploration systems at NASA headquarters – we have increased our knowledge of how the rocket and ground systems work together and our teams have become experts in the procedures. We have completed the test phase and everything we have learned will help improve our ability to take off during the launch window. The team is now ready to take the next step and prepare for launch. “

Probably on Friday 1 July, depending on the weather conditions, the SLS rocket will return to the assembly hangar to resolve the hydrogen leak detected on Monday during the propellant loading (an unexpected event that caused the countdown to stop 29 seconds early. compared to the established program). The actual preparations for the launch will then begin, which should take 6-8 weeks.

Currently, engineers plan to return the rocket and the Orion capsule to the launch pad by the end of August. The mission is expected to start in 10-14 days, but the timetable will only be established after the replacement of the hardware responsible for the hydrogen leak. The announcement of the launch date could come within the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, for Monday 27 June at 12:00 Italian the launch of the small ‘pioneer’ satellite Capstone (Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment), the first spacecraft destined to explore the cislunar orbit planned for the Lunar Gateway, is being prepared. the future space station that will act as a ‘bridge’ for astronauts traveling between the Earth and the Moon (among them there will also be three Europeans, as established by a recent agreement signed by NASA with the European Space Agency).

Going specifically into the Capstone mission, the small satellite will have the task of verifying the dynamics of the orbit, reducing the percentage of risk for future spacecraft that will position themselves in the area, and will also test an innovative navigation system and communication with the Earth. The size of a microwave oven, Capstone will be launched from New Zealand with an Electron rocket from the Rocket Lab company and will be carried by the same company’s Photon satellite, which will release it six days after launch.

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