An artist concept of the Orion
spacecraft in trans-lunar injection.
|Mission type||Unmanned Lunar orbital test flight|
|Mission duration||26 to 42 days (planned)|
|Spacecraft type||Orion MPCV|
|Manufacturer||The Boeing Company / Lockheed Martin / Airbus|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||NLT November 2021|
|Rocket||SLS Block 1|
|Launch site||Kennedy Space Center, LC-39B |
|End of mission|
|Landing site||Pacific Ocean |
Artemis 1 (officially Artemis I) is a planned uncrewed test flight for NASA's Artemis program that is the first integrated flight of the agency's Orion MPCV and Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket. It is expected to launch in November 2021.
Formerly known as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the mission was renamed after the introduction of the Artemis program. The launch will be held at Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center, where an Orion spacecraft will be sent on a mission of 25.5 days, 6 of those days in a retrograde orbit around the Moon. The mission will certify the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket for crewed flights beginning with the second flight test of the Orion and Space Launch System, Artemis 2, which will carry a crew of four around the Moon in 2023 for a week-long mission and back prior to the assembly of the Gateway.
Artemis 1 will use the Block 1 variant of the Space Launch System. The Block 1 will use five-segment solid rocket boosters producing 8.8 million pounds-force (39,000 kN) of thrust at liftoff. The core stage will use four RS-25D engines of the Space Shuttle. The upper stage ICPS will be based on the Delta Cryogenic Second Stage, consisting of one RL10 engine.
Once in orbit, the ICPS will perform a trans-lunar injection burn, which will transfer the Orion spacecraft and 13 CubeSats on the way to the Moon. If the maneuver is successful, the Orion will separate from the ICPS and coast to the Moon. The ICPS will deploy 13 CubeSats that will do scientific research and perform technology demonstrations.
Originally, the mission was planned to follow a circumlunar trajectory without entering orbit around the Moon. Current plans are expected to have the Orion spacecraft spend approximately 3 weeks in space, including 6 days in a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon.
The flight now named Artemis 1, was originally named by NASA Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) in 2012, when it was set to launch in 2017 as the first planned flight of the Space Launch System and the second uncrewed test flight of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle where Orion was to perform a circumlunar trajectory during a seven-day mission. Before then, this initial flight had been referred to as Space Launch System 1 or SLS-1.
On 16 January 2013, NASA announced that the European Space Agency will build the European Service Module based on its Automated Transfer Vehicle, so the flight could also be regarded as a test of ESA hardware as well as American, and of how the ESA components interact with the American Orion components.
The Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) flight article was consciously constructed[when?] in a way that if all the missing components (seats, life support systems) were added, it would not meet the mass target.
In January 2015, NASA and Lockheed announced that the primary structure in the Orion spacecraft would be up to 25% lighter compared to the previous one. 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, 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. On the seats, two mannequins will be strapped and used as radiation imaging phantoms.
Prior to April 2017,[clarification needed] the planned initial launch date had slipped to November 2018, and in April 2017, NASA delayed the planned date to "sometime in 2019." In the event, the 2019 planned launch date did not hold, and the maiden launch of SLS was subsequently further delayed; as of May 2020, it is currently planned for November 2021.
On November 30, 2020, it was reported that NASA and Lockheed Martin had found a failure with a component in one the Orion spacecraft's power data units. Engineers working on Orion stated that it could take months to replace the component casting doubt on whether NASA can launch the Artemis 1 mission in November 2021. However, NASA later clarified that it does not expect the issue to affect the Artemis 1 launch date
Crewed Exploration Mission-1 study
This flight will be uncrewed. However, NASA did a study in 2017, at the request of President Trump, to investigate a crewed version of the initial SLS flight. A crewed version of Exploration Mission-1 would have been composed of a crew of two astronauts, and the flight time would be much shorter than the uncrewed version due to safety reasons. The study investigated a crewed mission even with the possibility of further delays to the launch. On 12 May 2017, NASA revealed that it will not be sending astronauts to space for Orion's EM-1 mission following a months-long feasibility study. The study helped NASA make some decisions related to the flight test such as adding a full Orion hatch onto the spacecraft[why?] rather than a makeshift metal covering.
Alternative launcher study
On 13 March 2019, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine testified in front of a Senate hearing that NASA was considering moving the Orion spacecraft that was to fly on the first Space Launch System mission to commercial rockets to keep that mission on schedule for mid-2020. Bridenstine stated that the "SLS is struggling to meet its schedule", and that "We're now understanding better how difficult this project is and that it is going to take some additional time". Bridenstine testified that NASA was considering launching the Orion spacecraft being built for Exploration Mission-1 on commercial vehicles such as Falcon Heavy or Delta IV Heavy. 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. One challenge with this option would be carrying out that docking, as NASA does not have an ability to dock the Orion crew capsule with anything in orbit until Artemis 3. Since mid-2019, the idea was put on hold, due to another study's conclusion that it would delay the mission further. The plan was eventually scrapped when it was determined that it would be difficult to have Orion rendezvous with its interim cryogenic propulsion stage in low earth orbit.
NASA has partnered with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) in conjunction with StemRad and Lockheed Martin to perform the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE), which will measure tissue radiation dose deposition aboard Artemis I and test the effectiveness of the AstroRad radiation vest in the radiation environment beyond low Earth orbit. While radiation shielding strategies of the past have relied on storm shelters in which astronauts can seek refuge when solar storms erupt, the AstroRad's ergonomic design provides a mobile protection system with a similar shielding factor as storm shelters without hindering the astronauts' ability to perform their tasks.
The crew compartment of the uncrewed Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft will include two female mannequin imaging phantoms which will be exposed to the radiation environment along the lunar orbit, including solar storms and galactic cosmic rays. One phantom will be shielded with the AstroRad vest and the other will be left unprotected. The phantoms provide the opportunity to precisely measure radiation exposure not only at the surface of the body but also at the exact location of sensitive organs and tissues inside the human body. Radiation exposure will be measured with the implementation of both passive and active dosimeters intentionally distributed throughout the inside of the anthropomorphic phantoms at precise locations of sensitive tissues and high stem cell concentrations. The results of MARE should enable Orion as a platform for other scientific experiments, provide accurate radiation risk projections of deep space exploration, and validate the protective properties of the AstroRad vest.
Thirteen low-cost CubeSat missions were competitively selected as secondary payloads on Exploration Mission-1, later Artemis 1. All of them have the six-unit configuration, and will reside within the second stage on the launch vehicle from which they will be deployed. Two CubeSats have been selected through NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnership, three through the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, two through the Science Mission Directorate, and three were chosen from submissions by NASA's international partners. The CubeSat spacecraft selected are:
- ArgoMoon, designed by Argotec and coordinated by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), is designed to image the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) of Orion for mission data and historical records. It will demonstrate technologies necessary for a small spacecraft to maneuver and operate near the ICPS.
- BioSentinel is an astrobiology mission that will use yeast to detect, measure, and compare the impact of deep space radiation on living organisms over long durations beyond low-Earth orbit.
- CubeSat for Solar Particles (CuSP), designed at the Southwest Research Institute will study the dynamic particles and magnetic fields that stream from the Sun and as a proof of concept for the feasibility of a network of stations to track space weather.
- EQUULEUS, designed by Japan's JAXA and the University of Tokyo, will image Earth's plasmasphere to study the radiation environment around the Earth while demonstrating low thrust maneuvers for trajectory control in the space between Earth and the Moon.
- Lunar Flashlight is a lunar orbiter that will seek exposed water ice, and map its concentration at the 1–2 km (0.62–1.24 mi) scale within the permanently shadowed regions of the lunar south pole.
- Lunar IceCube, a lunar orbiter designed at the Morehead State University, will search for additional evidence of lunar water ice from a low lunar orbit.
- Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper (LunaH-Map), a lunar orbiter designed at the Arizona State University, will map hydrogen within craters near the lunar south pole, tracking depth and distribution of hydrogen-rich compounds like water. It will use a neutron detector to measure the energies of neutrons that interacted with the material on the lunar surface. Its mission is planned to last 60 days and perform 141 orbits of the Moon.
- Near-Earth Asteroid Scout is proof-of-concept of a controllable CubeSat solar sail spacecraft capable of encountering near-Earth asteroids (NEA). Observations will be achieved through a close (~10 km or 6.2 mi) flyby and using a high resolution science-grade monochromatic camera to measure the physical properties of a near-Earth asteroid. A variety of potential targets would be identified based upon launch date, time of flight, and rendezvous velocity.
- OMOTENASHI, designed by JAXA, is a lander probe to study the lunar radiation environment.
- SkyFire is a spacecraft designed by Lockheed Martin to fly by the Moon and collect surface spectroscopy and thermography.
The remaining three slots were selected through a competition pitting CubeSat teams from the United States against each other in a series of ground tournaments called 'NASA's Cube Quest Challenge', and were announced by NASA Ames on 8 June 2017. The competition was to contribute to opening deep-space exploration to non-government spacecraft. These slots were awarded to:
- Cislunar Explorers will demonstrate the viability of water electrolysis propulsion and interplanetary optical navigation to orbit the Moon. It was designed by Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
- Earth Escape Explorer (CU-E3) will demonstrate long-distance communications while in heliocentric orbit. It was designed by the University of Colorado Boulder.
- Team Miles will demonstrate long-distance communications while in heliocentric orbit and show low-thrust trajectory control techniques by employing a hybrid ion thruster. It was designed by Fluid and Reason, LLC, Tampa, Florida.
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MISSION NAMING CONVENTION. While Apollo mission patches used numbers and roman numerals throughout the program, Artemis mission names will use a roman numeral convention.
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Unlike Artemis 1, which will fly six-unit cubesats only...
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