Trio of Orion spacecraft equip to the Moon: Photo of the day

After successfully testing the Orion spacecraft during a flyby of the Moon at the end of last year following its launch into space by the new NASA Space Launch System rocket, the US Space Agency is now overseeing the construction of three more Orion capsules for future Artemis missions. NASA has shared an image of three spacecraft that will play a central role in the next three Artemis missions to the Moon.

Assembling Orion spacecraft for the Artemis II, Artemis III and Artemis IV missions. Photo: NASA/Lockheed Martin

All three spacecraft at different stages of assembly are now inside the Neil Armstrong building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The next Orion spacecraft of the Artemis II mission is seen on the right in the photo. On the left is a member of Artemis III, and in the middle is Artemis IV. Orion’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, posted the same image on Twitter with the comment: “The future of @NASA_Orion is looking pretty good!”

Each Orion capsule is in different stages of production as technicians and engineers prepare the spacecraft to transport astronauts to the Moon during future missions, according to NASA.

Preparation of Artemis II, Artemis III and Artemis IV

Technicians have recently installed a heat shield on the Artemis II crew module, and the teams intend to conduct acoustic tests over the next few months. When the crew module is ready, it will be connected to the service module in preparation for the lunar mission. 

Artemis is currently scheduled to launch in November 2024. The crew of the mission will be NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Victor Glover and Reid Wiseman, as well as Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen. All of them will not land on the Moon, but will only make a flyby, approaching the surface of the Moon by several hundred kilometers before returning home.

A successful mission will open the way to the Artemis III project, which aims to land the first woman and the first black man on the surface of the Moon. In this mission, Orion will take astronauts into lunar orbit, where they will transfer to a modified version of SpaceX’s Starship lander. Although this flight is currently scheduled for 2025, compliance with this date depends to a certain extent on SpaceX’s progress in testing the superheavy launch vehicle and the Starship spacecraft.

Artemis IV is scheduled to launch in 2028, and it will also take astronauts to the surface of the Moon.

Earlier we reported on whether astronauts would look for life on the Moon.

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