Miami, (EFE).- The US space agency NASA confirmed on Tuesday the “exceptional performance” achieved by the Artemis I unmanned mission, while “progressing with confidence” the preparation for the launch of Artemis II, this time with crew, by 2024.
“Exceeded expectations, excellent or amazing performance and results” were some of the qualifiers that those responsible for Artemis I used in a teleconference to describe the successful performance of the mission, which returned to Earth on December 11.
Although NASA experts are still reviewing the data collected on the mission, John Honeycutt, program manager for the Space Launch System (SLS), said the spacecraft’s performance was “outstanding” and “all expectations were met.” (of the mission), even most of them were overcome ”.
Illusion and confidence in Artemis II
“We continue with analysis and testing, but our confidence grows every day as we look forward to sending crews on Artemis II,” said Jim Free, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development.
Artemis I served to test the systems and the ships -the SLS rocket and the Orion capsule- and prepare the way for the following missions, after 25 days of space travel and circumnavigation of the Moon.
Howard Hu, Orion’s program manager, explained that Artemis was up to about 8 miles (12.8 kilometers) from the Moon’s surface. “We traveled farther than any spacecraft that has ever done before”, reaching a distance of 270,000 miles (434,000 kilometers) from our planet,” he said.
“So that was quite an achievement, an amazing journey that exceeded expectations,” said Hu, who also referred to the images obtained, images and recordings that, he said, “inspire the world.”
Among other objectives, this first mission -experimental and unmanned- sought to verify if the Orion capsule could take astronauts to and from the Moon safely.
NASA experts also referred to lessons learned such as the one related to the Orion heat shield, from which more carbonized material was released than expected when it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, which occurs at a temperature of more than 2,700 degrees Celsius. .
In addition to ongoing analysis of points like this, Shawn Quinn, Earth Systems Exploration program manager, said the mobile launcher from which Artemis I launched at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida suffered further damage. than expected.
The launcher’s tower elevator was damaged and is being repaired, in addition to the fact that modifications are being carried out and the “replacement” of the affected points is being carried out, said Quinn, who, along the same lines as the rest of those responsible, He was “very pleased” with the results of the mission.
The Earth Systems Exploration program manager also told the media that, “so far, the preparation (of the Artemis II mission) is going very well.”
The long-awaited Artemis program will continue in 2024 with the launch of Artemis II and Artemis III in 2025, a mission in which astronauts will once again set foot on the lunar soil 53 years after Neil Armstrong.
A new “hardware”
Hu elaborated on the importance of the data provided by Artemis I for “future missions”, on the “essential and hard” research work carried out in coordination by the different teams and advanced that they have “new hardware and components”.
“We have a new ‘hardware’ that is going to be tested in the integrated system,” he said.
On Artemis II four astronauts will fly around the Moon in a NASA test of human capabilities for deep space exploration. It will be the first time that the Orion rocket and capsule will make such a journey with a human crew.
“We are feeling optimistic” that the Artemis II mission will probably take off in late November 2024, Free said, the second of three missions in the NASA program that aims to establish a lunar base as a step before traveling to Mars.