Artemis 1

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Artemis 1
SLSonpadAug17.jpg
Artemis 1 rolling up the ramp of LC-39B
Names
  • Artemis I (official)
  • Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) (former)
Mission typeUncrewed lunar orbital test flight
OperatorNASA
COSPAR ID Edit this at Wikidata
Websitewww.nasa.gov/artemis-1
Mission duration25 days (planned)[1]
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftOrion CM-002
Spacecraft typeOrion MPCV
Manufacturer
Start of mission
Launch date12–27 November 2022[2]
RocketSpace Launch System, Block 1
Launch siteKennedy Space Center, LC-39B
End of mission
Recovered byUSS Portland (planned)[3]
Landing dateNET December 2022
Landing sitePacific Ocean off San Diego
Orbital parameters
Reference systemSelenocentric
RegimeDistant retrograde orbit
Period14 days
Orion spacecraft orbiter
Exploration Mission-1 patch.png
Artemis 1 mission patch  

Artemis 1, officially Artemis I,[4] is a planned uncrewed Moon-orbiting mission, the first spaceflight in NASA's Artemis program, and the first flight of the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the complete Orion spacecraft.[note 1] NASA is currently targeting a launch window between 12 and 27 November 2022.[2][5]

Formerly known as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1),[6] the mission was renamed following the creation of the Artemis program. The mission will lift off from Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center aboard the Space Launch System rocket. The Orion spacecraft will be launched on a mission of between 26 and 42 days,[7] with at least six of those days in a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon.[7] After reaching orbit and performing a trans-lunar injection (burn to the Moon), the mission will deploy ten CubeSat satellites and the Orion spacecraft will enter a distant retrograde orbit for six days. The Orion spacecraft will then return and reenter the Earth's atmosphere, protected by its heat shield, and splash down in the Pacific Ocean. The mission will certify Orion and the Space Launch System for crewed flights beginning with Artemis 2.[8] After the Artemis 1 mission, Artemis 2 will perform a crewed lunar flyby and Artemis 3 will perform a crewed lunar landing, five decades after the last Apollo mission.

The Orion spacecraft for Artemis 1 was stacked on 20 October 2021, marking the first time a super-heavy-lift vehicle has been stacked inside NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) since the final Saturn V. On 17 August 2022, the fully stacked vehicle was rolled out for launch, after a series of delays caused by difficulties in pre-flight testing. The first launch attempt was made on 29 August 2022, but was cancelled due to a faulty reading on a redundant sensor. The second attempt on 3 September 2022 was also cancelled after a hydrogen leak was discovered.[9] On the same day, in order to focus on troubleshooting the SLS, NASA decided to forgo any launch attempts in the launch window ending 6 September.[10] After the leak was satisfactorily repaired, the next launch opportunity was initially on 27 September 2022[11] before trajectory forecasts for then-Tropical Storm Ian led to a weather delay.[12][13][14]

Planned mission profile[edit]

Summary of the Artemis I mission

Artemis 1 will be launched on the Block 1 variant of the Space Launch System.[15] The Block 1 vehicle consists of a core stage, two five-segment solid rocket boosters (SRBs), and an upper stage. The core stage uses four RS-25D engines, all of which have previously flown on Space Shuttle missions. The core and boosters together produce 39,000 kN (8,800,000 lbf) of thrust at liftoff. The upper stage, known as the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), is based on the Delta Cryogenic Second Stage and is powered by a single RL10B-2 engine on the Artemis 1 mission.[citation needed]

Once in orbit, the ICPS will fire its engine to perform a trans-lunar injection (TLI) burn, which will place the Orion spacecraft and ten CubeSats on a trajectory to the Moon. Orion will then separate from the ICPS and coast to lunar space. Following Orion separation, the ICPS Stage Adapter will deploy ten CubeSats that will conduct scientific research and perform technology demonstrations.[16]

The Orion spacecraft will spend approximately three weeks in space, including six days in a distant retrograde orbit (DRO) around the Moon.[17]

Animation of Artemis I
Around the Earth
Frame rotating with Moon
  Earth ·   Artemis I ·   Moon
Mission elapsed time[1] Event Location
0 hours 00 minutes 00 seconds Liftoff Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39B
0 hours 02 minutes 12 seconds Solid rocket booster separation
0 hours 03 minutes 24 seconds Service module panels jettisoned
0 hours 03 minutes 30 seconds Launch abort tower jettisoned
0 hours 08 minutes 04 seconds Core stage main engine cutoff
0 hours 08 minutes 16 seconds Core stage and ICPS separation
0 hours 18 minutes 20 seconds Begin Orion solar array deployment
0 hours 30 minutes 20 seconds End Orion solar array deployment
0 hours 53 minutes 46 seconds Begin perigee raise maneuver
0 hours 54 minutes 08 seconds End perigee raise maneuver
1 hour 33 minutes 21 seconds Begin trans-Lunar injection (TLI) burn
1 hour 51 minutes 21 seconds End TLI burn
2 hours 01 minutes 26 seconds Orion/ICPS separation
2 hours 02 minutes 48 seconds Upper-stage separation burn
3 hours 25 minutes 26 seconds ICPS disposal burn
7 hours 51 minutes 21 seconds First trajectory correction burn
Days 2–5 Outbound coasting phase
Day 6 Lunar gravity assist 97 km (60 mi) from the Lunar surface
Days 6–9 Transit to distant retrograde orbit (DRO)
Days 10–26 In DRO
Day 27 DRO departure burn
Days 27–32 Exiting DRO
Day 33 Return powered flyby
Days 33–39 Return transit
Day 39 Entry and splashdown Pacific Ocean

History[edit]

Early illustration of the SLS launch, December 2011

Artemis 1 was outlined by NASA as Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) in 2012, when it was set to launch in 2017[18][note 2] as the first planned flight of the Space Launch System and the second uncrewed test flight of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. In initial plans for EM-1, Orion was to perform a circumlunar trajectory during a seven-day mission.[20][21] Around September 2011, SLS's first launch was delayed from before the end of 2016 to sometime in 2017, the first of at least fifteen more delays.[22]

In January 2013, it was announced that the Orion spacecraft's service module was to be built by the European Space Agency, and named the European Service Module.[23] In mid-November 2014, construction of the SLS core stage began at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF).[24] In January 2015, NASA and Lockheed Martin announced that the primary structure in the Orion spacecraft used on Artemis 1 would be up to 25% lighter compared to the previous one (EFT-1). This would be achieved by reducing the number of cone panels from six (EFT-1) to three (EM-1), reducing the total number of welds from 19 to 7,[25] saving the additional mass of the weld material. Other savings would be due to revising its various components and wiring. For Artemis 1, the Orion spacecraft will be outfitted with a complete life support system and crew seats, but will be left uncrewed.[26]

Originally, the SLS version used on the first, second and third missions will use the SLS's Exploration Upper Stage, however, due to the stage's extreme delays, in April 2018 NASA decided to switch from Block 1B to the less powerful Block 1 SLS for these three missions. The Exploration Upper Stage will be used instead from the SLS's fourth mission onwards. In February 2017, NASA investigated a crewed launch as the first SLS flight.[15] It would have had a crew of two astronauts and the flight time would have been shorter than the uncrewed version.[27] However, after a months-long feasibility study, NASA rejected the proposal, claiming cost as the primary issue, and continued with the plan to fly the first SLS mission uncrewed.[28]

In March 2019, then-NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine proposed moving the Orion spacecraft from SLS to commercial rockets, either the Falcon Heavy or Delta IV Heavy, to comply with the schedule.[29][30] The mission would require two launches: one to place the Orion spacecraft into orbit around the Earth, and a second carrying an upper stage. The two would then dock while in Earth orbit and the upper stage would ignite to send Orion to the Moon.[31] The idea was eventually scrapped.[32] One challenge with this option would be carrying out that docking, as Orion will not carry a docking mechanism until Artemis 3.[33] The concept was shelved in mid-2019, due to another study's conclusion that it would further delay the mission.[34]

Ground testing[edit]

First static fire attempt of the core stage performed on 16 January 2021

The core stage for Artemis 1, built at Michoud Assembly Facility by Boeing, had all four engines attached in November 2019[35] and was declared finished one month later.[36] The core stage left the facility to undergo the Green Run test series at Stennis Space Center, consisting of eight tests of increasing complexity:[37]

  1. Modal testing (vibration tests)
  2. Avionics (electronic systems)
  3. Fail-safe systems
  4. Propulsion (without firing of the engines)
  5. Thrust vector control system (moving and rotating engines)
  6. Launch countdown simulation
  7. Wet dress rehearsal, with propellant
  8. Static fire of the engines for eight minutes

The first test was performed in January 2020,[37][38] and subsequent Green Run tests proceeded without issue. On 16 January 2021, a year later, the eighth and final test was performed, but the engine shut down after running for one minute,[39] with no sign of damage to the engine. This was caused by pressure in the hydraulic system used for the engines' thrust vector control system dropping below limits set for the test. However, the limits were conservative – if such an anomaly occurred in launch, the rocket would still fly normally.[40] The last test was performed again successfully on 18 March 2021.[41] The core subsequently departed the Stennis Space Center on 24 April 2021, on route to the Kennedy Space Center.[42]

Assembly[edit]

SLS with the Orion capsule in the Vehicle Assembly Building, March 2022

The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage was the first part of the SLS to be delivered to the Kennedy Space Center in July 2017.[43] Three years later, all of the SLS's solid rocket booster segments were shipped by train to the Kennedy Space Center on 12 June 2020,[44] and the SLS launch vehicle stage adapter (LVSA) was delivered by barge one month later on 29 July 2020.[45] The assembly of the SLS took place at the Vehicle Assembly Building's High Bay 3, beginning with the placement of the two bottom solid rocket booster segments on 23 November 2020.[46] Assembly of the boosters was temporarily paused due to the core stage Green Run test delays before being resumed on 7 January 2021,[47] and the boosters' stacking was completed by 2 March 2021.[48]

The SLS core stage for the mission, CS-1, arrived at the launch site on the Pegasus barge on 27 April 2021 after the successful conclusion of Green Run tests. It was moved to the VAB low bay for refurbishment and stacking preparations on 29 April 2021.[49] The stage was then stacked with its boosters on 12 June 2021. The stage adapter was stacked on the Core Stage on 22 June 2021. The ICPS upper stage was stacked on 6 July 2021. Following the completion of umbilical retract testing and integrated modal testing, the Orion stage adapter with ten secondary payloads was stacked atop the upper stage on 8 October 2021.[50]

The Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft began fueling and pre-launch servicing in the Multi-Payload Processing Facility on 16 January 2021, following a handover to NASA Exploration Ground Systems (EGS).[51][52] On 20 October 2021, the Orion spacecraft, encapsulated under the launch abort system and aerodynamic cover, was rolled over to the VAB and stacked atop the SLS rocket, finishing the stacking of the Artemis 1 vehicle in High Bay-3.[53] During a period of extensive integrated testing and checkouts, one of the four RS-25 engine controllers failed, requiring a replacement and delaying the first rollout of the rocket.[54][55]

Launch preparations[edit]

First rollout of SLS in March 2022; it was then rolled back in for repairs

On 17 March 2022, Artemis 1 rolled out of High Bay 3 from the Vehicle Assembly Building for the first time in order to perform a pre-launch wet dress rehearsal (WDR). The initial WDR attempt, on 3 April, was scrubbed due to a mobile launcher pressurization problem.[56] A second attempt to complete the test was scrubbed on 4 April, after problems with supplying gaseous nitrogen to the launch complex, liquid oxygen temperatures, and a vent valve stuck in a closed position.[57]

During preparations for a third attempt, a helium check valve on the ICPS upper stage was kept in a semi-open position by a small piece of rubber originating from one of the mobile launcher's umbilical arms, forcing test conductors to delay fuelling the stage until the valve could be replaced in the VAB.[58][59] The third attempt to finish the test did not include fuelling the upper stage. The rocket's liquid oxygen tank started loading successfully. However, during the loading of liquid hydrogen on the core stage, a leak was discovered on the tail service mast umbilical plate, located on the mobile launcher at the base of the rocket, forcing another early end to the test.[60][61]

NASA elected to roll the vehicle back to the VAB to repair the hydrogen leak and the ICPS helium check valve, while also upgrading the nitrogen supply at LC-39B after prolonged outages on the three previous wet dress rehearsals. Artemis 1 was rolled back to the VAB on 26 April.[62][63][64] After the repairs and upgrades were complete the Artemis 1 vehicle rolled out to LC-39B for a second time on 6 June to complete the test.[65]

During the fourth wet dress rehearsal attempt on 20 June, the rocket was successfully fully loaded with propellant on both stages, but due to a hydrogen leak on the quick-disconnect connnection of the tail service mast umbilical, the countdown could not reach the planned T-9.3 seconds mark and was stopped automatically at T-29 seconds. NASA mission managers soon determined they had completed almost all planned test objectives and declared the WDR campaign complete.[66]

On 2 July, the Artemis 1 stack was rolled back to the VAB for final launch preparations and to fix the hydrogen leak on the quick disconnect, ahead of a launch targeted in two launch windows: 29 August and 5 September.[67][68] The SLS passed flight readiness review on 23 August, checking out five days before the first launch opportunity.[69]

Launch attempts[edit]

Fueling was scheduled to commence just after midnight on 29 August 2022, but was delayed an hour due to offshore storms, only beginning at 1:13 am. Prior to the planned launch at 8:33 am, Engine 3 of the rocket's four engines was observed to be above the maximum allowable temperature limit for launch.[70][71] Other technical difficulties involved an eleven-minute communications delay between the spacecraft and ground control, a fuel leak, and a crack on the insulating foam of the connection joints between the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks.[70][72][73] NASA scrubbed the launch after an unplanned hold and the two-hour launch window expired.[74] An investigation revealed that a sensor not used to determine launch readiness was faulty, and displayed an erroneously high temperature for Engine 3.[71]

Following the first attempt, a second launch attempt was scheduled for the afternoon of 3 September.[75] The launch window would have opened at 2:17 pm EDT, or 21:10 UTC, and lasted for two hours.[76] The launch was scrubbed at 12:17 am due to a fuel supply line leak in a service arm connecting to the engine section.[77][9] The cause of the leak is uncertain. Mission operators are investigating whether an overpressurization of the liquid hydrogen line of the quick-disconnect interface during the launch attempt may have damaged a seal, allowing hydrogen to escape.[78]

Launch operators have not yet decided on the date for the next launch attempt; the earliest possible opportunity was 19 September[79][80][5] until mission managers declared that 27 September, and then 30 September, would be the absolute earliest date, NASA having successfully repaired the leak.[81][11] A launch in September would require that the Eastern Range of the United States Space Force would agree to an extension on certification of the rocket's flight termination system, which destroys the rocket should it move off-course and towards a populated area;[78] this was carried out on 22 September.[82] However, unfavorable forecasts regarding the trajectory of then-Tropical Storm Ian led launch managers to call off the 27 September launch attempt and begin preparations for the stack's rollback to the VAB.[12] On the morning of 26 September, the decision was made to make the rollback later that evening.[14][13]

Payloads[edit]

AstroRad vest on the International Space Station

The Orion spacecraft will carry three astronaut-like mannequins equipped with sensors to provide data on what crew members may experience during a trip to the Moon.[83] The first mannequin, called "Captain Moonikin Campos" (named after Arturo Campos, a NASA engineer during the Apollo program),[84] will occupy the commander's seat inside Orion and is equipped with two radiation sensors in his Orion Crew Survival System suit, which astronauts will wear during launch, entry, and other dynamic phases of their missions. His seat also has sensors to record data on acceleration and vibration data during the mission.[85]

Alongside Moonikin are two phantom torsos: Helga and Zohar, who will take part in the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE), in which NASA, together with the German Aerospace Center and the Israel Space Agency, will measure the radiation exposure during the mission. Zohar will be shielded with the Astrorad radiation vest equipped with sensors to determine radiation risks. Helga will not wear a vest. The phantoms will measure the radiation exposure of body location, with both passive and active dosimeters distributed at sensitive and high stem cell-concentration tissues.[86] The test is to provide data on radiation levels during missions to the Moon while testing the effectiveness of the vest.[87] In addition to the three mannequins, Orion will carry NASA's Snoopy[88] and ESA's Shaun the Sheep.[89]

Orion spacecraft's stage adapter with nine out of ten CubeSats installed

Ten low-cost CubeSat missions will fly as secondary payloads, mounted at Orion's stage adapter.[90] Each are in a six-unit configuration[91] and reside within the Stage Adapter, above the second stage. Ten CubeSats were ultimately installed on the Stage Adapter by October 2021. Two were selected through NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, three through the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, two through the Science Mission Directorate, and three from submissions by NASA's international partners.[92] These CubeSats are:[90]

The remaining three slots are empty, as the following three satellites were not ready in time for the Artemis 1 mission:[93]

Besides these functional payloads, Artemis 1 will also carry commemorative stickers, patches, seeds and flags from contractors and space agencies around the world.[97] A technology demonstration called Callisto, developed by Lockheed Martin in collaboration with Amazon and Cisco, will also fly aboard Orion on Artemis 1. Callisto will use video conferencing software to transmit audio and video from mission control and use the Alexa virtual assistant to respond the audio. In addition, members of the public are able to submit messages to be displayed on Callisto during the Artemis 1 mission.[98]

Media outreach[edit]

Sample souvenir boarding pass for those who registered their names to be flown aboard the Artemis 1 mission

The Artemis 1 mission patch was created by NASA designers of the SLS, Orion spacecraft and Exploration Ground Systems teams. The silver border represents the color of the Orion spacecraft; at the centre, the SLS and Orion are depicted. Three lightning towers surrounding the rocket symbolize Launch Complex 39B, from which Artemis 1 will launch. The red and blue mission trajectories encompassing the white full Moon represent Americans and people in the European Space Agency who work on Artemis 1.[99]

The Artemis 1 flight is frequently marketed as the beginning of Artemis's "Moon to Mars" program,[100][101] though there is no concrete plan for a crewed mission to Mars within NASA as of 2022.[102] To raise public awareness, NASA made a website for the public to get a digital boarding pass of the mission. The names submitted will be written into a hard drive and placed inside the Orion spacecraft.[103][104] Also aboard the capsule will be a digital copy of the 14,000 entries for the Moon Pod Essay Contest hosted by Future Engineers for NASA.[105]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ An Orion capsule was flown in 2014, but not the entire Orion spacecraft.
  2. ^ The Space Launch System was originally mandated by Congress in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 to be ready for flight before the end of 2016.[19]

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