The Europe-built service module powering the Orion spacecraft during the Artemis 1 mission launched the first round trip to the moon, but the main system to keep future human crews alive during the flight has yet to be tested.
The Orion capsuleWhich The rematch has begun of its groundbreaking flight on Thursday (Dec. 1), currently not full of breathable air, European aerospace giant Airbus told Space.com. According to the Airbus company that built it Orion server unitThe capsule’s life support system will only be fully installed in ground laboratories before the first flight with astronauts in 2024.
The Europe-built service module, responsible for propulsion and navigation, is the part of the spacecraft that maintains livable conditions inside the Orion crew cabin. The service module carries the water the astronauts will need during flight and generates breathable air by mixing oxygen and nitrogen stored in separate tanks.
Related: NASA’s Artemis 1 moon mission: live updates
during the Artemis mission 1However, engineers are only testing a nitrogen delivery system, but fortunately, no Shaun the sheepthe plush toy sent by the European Space Agency (ESA) for the mission, and no Three dummies occupy the cockpit of OrionCare about this fact.
“The oxygen and nitrogen delivery systems are very similar,” Airbus spokesperson Ralf Heinrich told Space.com in an email. “We are carrying nitrogen aboard Artemis 1 and will be testing the nitrogen delivery system during the flight that is underway at the moment. Since the oxygen and nitrogen systems carry the same components, testing on the nitrogen distribution system will similarly cover oxygen delivery. Furthermore, the oxygen system is being extensively tested on the ground. “.
For Airbus, the Artemis 1 mission is a major victory. The company has been awarded a contract to develop the service module, a key component of the Orion spacecraft, by the European Space Agency, based on its previous experience in building Automated transport vehiclewhich is a cargo spacecraft used to supply International Space Station Between 2008 and 2014. During its lunar missions in the late 1960s and early 1970s, NASA built all of the required technology at home in the United States and involved no international partners.
The Artemis 1 service module is the culmination of ten years in the business, and the Airbus team is delighted to see the craft perform with flying colours. So far, the service module has completed all of its major tasks flawlessly, including three The engine burns outwhich helped Orion first enter lunar orbit, and then leave lunar orbit to return to Earth.
In a press conference after the launch, NASA admitted that it had discovered 13 anomalies During the early phase of Orion’s flight, including erratic readouts from star trackers used by the space capsule for navigation.
“Engineers will look at the data coming back from Orion so that every system, every component on the spacecraft can be tested in one way or another before the next mission,” Sian Cleaver, Airbus’ European Service Unit project manager told Space.com in an interview. “So far, everything has been going well. Of course, there will be things that could be improved or changed. There have been some things that haven’t worked quite as planned, but none of them are major issues.”
Airbus wrote in an email that Airbus engineers receive a series of data from the spacecraft including “pressure, temperature, valve position data, currents and voltages” to monitor its condition.
“We look at all the data throughout the entire mission, and especially during major events, such as main engine launches,” Airbus wrote. “[We] Ensure that the system operates within the expected and qualified range. The data is also stored continuously to allow for post-flight analyzes and to prepare for the upcoming Artemis missions.”
Airbus has already delivered its next service module to NASA for testing and mating with the crew cabin for Artemis mission 2which will take humans into orbit around the moon for the first time since The last Apollo flight in 1972. This mission is expected to start no later than 2024, if all goes according to plan. The company has also almost completed the assembly of the third service module, which will power the Artemis 3 mission It is expected to include a moon landing no later than 2025.
The bones of the fourth service module have also been put together and plans are in place to begin work on the fifth sample later this month. These service units will cover the Artemis 4 and 5 missions, which are expected to take off to the Moon at the end of this decade. By then, it was Moon Gate The space station will be put together in orbit around the Moon, opening a new era of regular human visits to Earth’s companion.
“It kind of looks like a production line is kind of going on right now in our facility,” Cleaver said. “It’s really exciting. The program is really, really moving now. We have a plan for the next 10 years, and there are also clear messages from NASA and the European Space Agency that the Moon is only the first step and that the technology will eventually be used to Mars.”
Airbus is contracting to build Service Module Six and is currently negotiating another batch of three. The service modules are for one-time use only and will be separated from the crew capsule prior to entry Earth’s atmosphere during his return.
The Artemis 1 mission lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 16. And the mission was the beginning not only for Orion, but also for the massive Space Launch System rocket that lifted it into space. During the mission, Orion passed just 80 miles (130 kilometers) above the lunar surface, and also broke a record for the greatest distance from Earth achieved by a human-class spacecraft. By reaching as far as 270,000 miles (435,000 km) from the planet, Orion exceeded the previous maximum held by the Apollo 13 mission. However, that mission only reached that far as part of a rescue operation designed to bring it home after it performed An explosion on board crippled the spacecraft.
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