NASA has faced many challenges related to the ambitious Artemis mission, which aims to bring people back to the Moon. During a press conference on January 9, NASA officially announced that the Artemis II manned mission to the Moon would be postponed to September 2025. Previously, this flight was planned for November 2024. At the same time, the Artemis III mission to land people on the surface of our moon is postponed until September 2026 instead of the end of 2025.
“We’re committed to launching as safely as possible and we will launch when we’re ready,” NASA Associate Administrator Jim Free said during a press conference.
Flaws and malfunctions of Artemis
Artemis II is designed to fly four astronauts to the moon and back, marking the first crew flight inside the Orion spacecraft. The crewless capsule was launched in November 2022 as part of the Artemis I mission. Although the flight was generally successful, it revealed a number of problems that NASA is now actively solving. For example, flaws have been noticed in the behavior of the spacecraft’s heat shield. During Orion’s entry into the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 39.5 thousand km/h, the heat shield warmed up to a temperature of 2760 °C. Although the temperature was within the expected range, a significantly larger amount of abrasive material of the protective shield was observed to peel off than the engineers expected.
The team also found problems with valves in the Orion life support system. It is designed to maintain a comfortable crew environment inside the spacecraft. The valves were tested for Artemis II but failed during testing for the Artemis III mission due to design flaws. NASA engineers also noted flaws in the operation of Orion batteries, which are designed to be used in emergency cases if the spacecraft needs to separate from the rocket.
In addition to the problems with the Orion spacecraft, the space agency is also considering the development of the Starship Moon Landing System, which is designed to deliver astronauts to the surface of the Moon. SpaceX is developing a special modification of the lunar lander of its Starship Human Landing System rocket for the Artemis III and IV missions. It is planned that the SpaceX spacecraft will meet with the Orion spacecraft and deliver NASA astronauts from the orbit of the Moon to the surface. But the company’s mega-rocket has had two unsuccessful launches.
According to Jessica Jensen, vice president of customer operations and integration at SpaceX, SpaceX expects the equipment for the third flight to be ready this month, and a launch license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will be received in February.
SpaceX still has a lot to test and check, including reaching far lunar orbit, providing refueling in space, and, of course, the ability to make a safe and soft landing on the surface of the Moon.
Earlier, we talked about the most anticipated space events of 2024.
According to NASA
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