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Sunday, February 5, 2023

With First Artemis Moon Mission Success, Artemis II Astronauts to be Named in Early 2023

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With the Artemis I Orion capsule safely returning to Earth yesterday, Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center said in a media briefing that the announcement of which astronauts will participate in the Artemis II mission will be in early 2023. That announcement will include a Canadian.

Splashdown of the Orion capsule happened in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California at 9:40 PST/12:40 EST. NASA said that “flight controllers in mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston spent about two hours performing tests in open water to gather additional data about the spacecraft, including on its thermal properties after enduring the searing heat of re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere. Recovery personnel also spent time collecting detailed imagery of the spacecraft before beginning to pull the capsule into the USS Portland’s well deck.”  

Before the Artemis II mission can take place, NASA and its partners have a lot of data to analyze from the Artemis I mission. That’s because while the Artemis I mission looked picture perfect, including yesterday’s skip entry technique, there was a lot of data collected on the 25.5 day mission. And if any issues come up, and there will surely be some issues, even if minor, they will need to be addressed before the next launch which will include four astronauts, including a Canadian.

After yesterday’s splashdown, NASA provided some context on the mission and why there is so much data to analyze.

“During the mission, Orion performed two lunar flybys, coming within 80 miles (129 km) of the lunar surface. At its farthest distance during the mission, Orion traveled nearly 270,000 miles (434,523 km) from our home planet, more than 1,000 times farther than where the International Space Station orbits Earth, to intentionally stress systems before flying crew.”

“During the flight test, Orion stayed in space longer than any spacecraft designed for astronauts has done without docking to a space station. While in a distant lunar orbit, Orion surpassed the record for distance traveled by a spacecraft designed to carry humans, previously set during Apollo 13.”

A statement from the Canadian Space Agency stated that “We just witnessed the first of a multi-mission campaign aimed at bringing sustainable human presence to the Moon’s orbit and its surface. By effectively demonstrating Orion and SLS capabilities, Artemis I has laid a vital foundation for the future of human exploration into deep space. These systems will support astronauts during long-term missions, and pave the way for establishing a permanent presence on the Moon, and ultimately, human missions to Mars. This new era of international collaboration in space exploration will push the boundaries of scientific and technological advancements for the benefit of humankind, and inspire a new generation in the pursuit of science and discovery.”

The Artemis II mission is schedule for no earlier than May 2024, though it’s quite possible the mission is pushed into 2025.

Artemis I Mission Highlights

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