September 26, 2022

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NASA's Artemis I mission is about to explode a giant SLS rocket toward the moon

NASA’s Artemis I mission is about to explode a giant SLS rocket toward the moon

Well, space lovers. It’s almost time. NASA is about to launch its next-generation rocket for the first time and send it off the moon. It’s going to be a tough time, but honestly, there’s been a lot going on here on Earth as well — and if you’re like me, you might be in the market for a quick refresher on what exactly is happening when the next big thing explodes.

Consider your SLS cheat sheet as NASA prepares for its big launch on August 29.

What is SLS?

It stands for Space Launch System.

This sounds like a very boring name.

that it. But it’s also very functional, as you see it as referring to a system for launching things into space.

What kinds of things can SLS shoot?

a lot of things! This version of the SLS has and can carry four large rocket motors and two solid state boosters About 27 metric tons Even the vicinity of the moon. this More than a space shuttle It can be carried into LEO but less than It can carry a Saturn 5 rocket from the Apollo era to the moon. Future versions of the SLS will be able to pull more.

SLS and Orion trading on launchpad
Photo: NASA/Kim Shefflet

Whoa, how are you going to do that?

It will light up like a 5.75 million pound firework. These boosters — the twin white cylinders on either side of the rocket — are 17 stories high and are filled with a solid rocket fuel called polybutadiene acrylonitrile. They burn through six ton of this fuel every second, According to NASA. In case you’re wondering what this is for jumbo jets, NASA has you covered. Each one “generates more thrust than 14 four-engine jumbo commercial aircraft.” The two boosters will generate 75 percent of the boom that lifts the rocket and its payload off the ground.

But that’s only part of the rocket’s power. There is also a length of 212 feet basic stage The big orange part of the rocket. On launch day, it will be filled with 537,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and 196,000 of liquid oxygen, which will supply the four engines at the bottom.

All that fuel and engineering translates into a boatload of energy. Within 8.5 minutes of launch, the SLS capsule and Orion carrying it will be traveling at speeds of about 17,000 miles per hour.

What is Orion capsule?

I know, else Noun. Therefore, the SLS will carry a spacecraft called Orion. (In the pictures, it’s a file The white part is on top of the missile.) is not affiliated in any way with ORION GAMING TOOL.

Photo by Lauren Grosch/The Verge

Orion is designed for missions outside Earth’s orbit, with possible destinations to the Moon or Mars. I’ve got a Very shiny look It will help it deal with extreme temperatures in space, a next-generation heat shield to handle atmospheric re-entry, and launch aborted system Astronauts can be blasted to safety if something goes wrong during launch. In space, it can support four people On a mission for 21 days.

Orion flew into space before in a Test flight in 2014. It has gone through a lot of tests since then in preparation for this upcoming trip, which is much delayed, many times. (More on these delays later.) Back in 2020, it looked like there might be a chance that it will be delayed again when some engineers do. Find a problem With the power component of the spacecraft. Trying to fix it would have taken months, and they have backup systems available, so They will fly the spacecraft as is.

Will there be people inside Orion?

no. There will be three mannequins strapped inside, which looks terrifying to varying degrees. one whose name is Commander Monnequin CamposHe will wear one of the flight suits that astronauts will wear on future missions. It will be accompanied by Helga and Zohar’s limbless, which will carry radiation detectors to see how much radiation astronauts might be exposed to during a trip to the Moon. The Zohar will wear a jacket that protects against radiation. Helga no. Good luck, Helga.

Two blue limbless mannequins strapped to benches inside an Orion capsule

Helga and Zohar were tied to their seats in Orion. The feet of Commander Monnequin Campos are shown in the upper left.
Photo: NASA/Frank Michaux

One of the big reasons there are no astronauts on board is that this entire launch is one giant test flight. It’s the first time the SLS has made its first appearance in space, and putting people on a rocket before knowing if it can actually work seems like a pretty bad choice. (NASA I very briefly thought about doing exactly thatand then decided against him.) Instead, I’ll be all about Artemis I testing how well Orion and SLS are working and pushing them to their limits before people get on board.

What is Artemis I?

Oh boy, another name! Artemis I is the mission for SLS and Orion. Its primary goal is to ensure that Orion can operate in space and that it can safely return astronauts to Earth after the mission is over. As a reward, I will Fly farther from Earth than any spacecraft designed for humans It has previously flown before, reaching a distance of 280,000 miles from Earth.

During its 42-day mission, it will travel a total distance of about 1.3 million miles, bound for the Moon, and then enter lunar orbit for several days before returning to Earth. The maps for this mission look too big and too messy 8. If the launch goes as planned on August 29th, it should blast off again on Earth on October 10th.

Diagram showing the flight path of the Artemis I mission orbiting the Earth and the Moon.

Itinerary of Artemis I’s Journey.
picture: NASA

Are there other Artemis missions?

yes! If all goes well with Artemis I, NASA will move on to Artemis II, which will be the SLS/Orion’s first flight with a crew on board. It’s also the first manned mission to return to the Moon since the Apollo era, but the astronauts on board won’t land on the Moon — they’ll orbit around for a while, then return to Earth.

The ultimate goal is for NASA to land the first woman on the Moon during the Artemis III mission, which is still a work in progress. In August, NASA Announced several potential landing sites Near the south pole of the moon.

Yes, that rings the bell. How long has this been in the works?

The Artemis program? Since 2019, when then Vice President Mike Pence announced that NASA is returning to the Moon and will get there by 2024.

Fun fact! It got its name because in mythology, Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo, and there is a lot of nostalgia for the Apollo missions, For better or worse.

Will they return it to the moon by 2024?

of course not. they Shooting of the year 2025 At this point, but that’s still pretty ambitious.

What about the SLS project? I feel like I’ve heard about it longer.

You certainly have. Its origins go back to around 2010, when the United States was moving away from the space shuttle and moving toward other means of space transportation. Parts of it started out as a project called Constellation that was canceled for being too expensive. It was then revived as the SLS in 2010, with the goal of launching in 2017. This Back to 2018 And it continued to slide, as the project became I’m late And on the budget.

For a complete look at history, Check out our story here.

But… are they ready to go now?

It looks like it! although The dress rehearsal was cut short in June Because of the hydrogen leak, engineers think they’ve fixed all of the rocket’s last-minute missions, and NASA decided they’d be go shoot.

What will be on the plane?

In addition to Helga, Zohar, and Commander Moonikin Campos, there will be a few other science experiments aboard Artemis I. During the mission, the spacecraft will deploy 10 small satellites called CubeSats. Some will map the ice on the moon’s surface, while someone will spread a giant solar sail and head toward an asteroid, One will try to land on the moon. On board, there will also be a science experiment that will Carry yeast where yeast has never gone before Trying to study deep space radiation.

A plush cartoon sheep holds a hoof towards a small model of an Orion capsule.

Shaun the Lamb standing with a model of the mighty capsule
Photo: ESA/Aardman

Also inside the capsule will be the velor Shawn’s name is Shawn. Also, Snoopy. Shaun and Snoopy will act as Zero Gravity Indicatorsfloats around the orb as soon as it reaches microgravity.

When will the SLS be launched?

August 29 at 8:33 a.m. ET. We’ll see you there!

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