space mission Artemis I it is back on Earth after 26 days of voyage around the Moon. Everything as planned by NASA, the Orion capsule, which will carry astronauts to the satellite in the coming years, has landed at a point in the Pacific Ocean, near the island of Guadalupe, shortly before seven in the afternoon (Spanish peninsular time). ). Previously, the spacecraft’s service module, which provides air, water, electricity, propulsion and temperature control to the crew capsule, had separated from the Orion and burned up in the atmosphere. The return of the Artemis I to Earth happens on a designated date: this Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the last time that two astronauts — military pilot Gene Cernan and geologist Harrison Schmitt of the apollo 17They stepped on the Moon.
With the controlled plunge of Orion into the waters of the Pacific —NASA has confirmed that the ship has not suffered damage—, the first step of humanity to return to the Moon culminates. Point and followed. The mission Artemis I It has been the key test before launching the great expedition of this space program: taking four crew members on a circumnavigation trip of the Moon —Artemis II— in 2024 and, a year later, getting the first woman and the first black person to walk on the lunar surface. Unlike the space program Apollodesigned to land on the moon, the program artemis — named after the Greek goddess, the twin sister of the god Apollo — takes the satellite as a springboard for his most ambitious goal: sending a human expedition to Mars beginning in 2040.
After two failed launch attempts, the third time was the charm and Artemis I took off on November 16 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida (United States). The objective of this first space mission was to test NASA’s new Space Launch System, the most powerful rocket in history, weighing 2,600 tons and taller than a 17-story building. This time, the ship was unmanned: on board were only three mannequins and two dolls of fictional characters (the dog Snoopy and the sheep Shaun), who have traveled more than two million kilometers over the lunar surface.
During its journey through space, the ship Artemis I suffered some blackout in communication, but it was restored shortly after. Orion has also sent images of its journey and, on its route around the Moon, it detached from a dozen small satellites with various missions, such as trying to detect hidden ice in the celestial body or analyzing the plasma present in the vicinity of the Moon. .
The most critical moment of the mission, and the main reason it was launched, was to test the planet’s reentry system. Specifically, the Orion’s thermal insulation system, since the friction of the air entering the Earth will raise the outside temperature of the ship to almost 3,000 degrees: just after the service module detaches from the manned capsule and in In just 20 minutes, the Orion goes from almost 40,000 kilometers per hour —32 times the speed of sound— to just 30 when it touches the surface of the sea, a ferocious descent that causes the brutal external heating of the capsule by friction with the atmosphere. For this reason, that the entire heat shield of the ship works perfectly is key to guaranteeing the return of the astronauts when the ship travels with a crew.
After half past six in the afternoon (Spanish peninsular time), the Orion’s 11 parachutes were deployed, ready to slow it down, and some inflatable rubber balls to keep it face up despite the waves. The navy ship USS Portland He will be in charge of recovering the capsule, although the process will take about six hours: the forecast is to leave the capsule with all the electrical systems on for two hours to study how heat is dissipated and what the temperature is inside the ship. NASA’s plans are to later tow the ship to a naval base in San Diego, California, United States, and then transfer it to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, to continue testing the ship.
on the mission Artemis I More than 30,000 people have participated and international cooperation has been necessary. The United States has manufactured the crew capsule, but the European Space Agency (ESA) has been commissioned to build the service module that provides oxygen and water to the astronauts and propulsion and electricity (through solar panels) to the ship. .
You can follow MATTER in Facebook, Twitter and instagramor sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.