Artemis Returning for launch
The SLS Mega Lunar Rocket is on the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, preparing to launch the Orion spacecraft and its European Service Module. The earliest launch opportunity is November 16 at 07:04 CET (06:04 GMT, 1:04 local time).
Artemis I is the first mission in a major program to send astronauts around and to the Moon in a sustainable manner. This first uncrewed launch will see the Orion spacecraft travel to the Moon, enter an extended orbit around our satellite and then return to Earth powered by the European-built module that supplies electricity, propulsion, fuel, water and air , as well as keeping a spacecraft operating at the correct temperature.
Artemis to the Moon
The European service modules are made from components supplied by over 20 companies in ten ESA member states and the USA. As the first European Service Module sits atop the SLS rocket on the launch pad, the second is only 8 km away and is integrated with the Orion crew capsule for the first manned mission, Artemis II. The third and fourth European Service Modules – which will propel the astronauts to the moon landing – are being manufactured in Bremen, Germany.
The Artemis program is an international endeavor to build a permanent outpost around and on the Moon. Modules for the lunar portal are being built in the US and Europe, with the first European module – International habitat – in production in Turin, Italy, and is ready to launch the fourth Artemis mission together with the Orion spacecraft.
Artemis’ first launch this week is unmanned, but three mannequins have been placed in the spacecraft’s seats to conduct research. Equipped with more than 5,600 sensors, two dummies will measure the amount of radiation astronauts may be exposed to on future missions with unprecedented precision. ESA is also including active radiation dosimeters in the crew module to obtain more data on how radiation levels change during a mission to the Moon – building on leadership developed over decades of radiation research on the International Space Station .
Launching on November 16, the three-week Artemis I mission will end on December 11 with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. The European Service Module detaches from the Orion Crew Module before descending and burns up harmlessly in the atmosphere, its work completed after taking Orion to the Moon and back safely.