NASA sets a date to begin lunar tuning

First Artemis mission is stacked on a rocket – now for five punishing sets of tests before liftoff

NASA has set a date for the test of the technologies it hopes will see it return to the Moon and explore Mars: February 2022.

The agency on Saturday announced that its Orion spacecraft has been stacked atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and if all tests go well is expected to make an uncrewed test flight around the Moon.

The mission – the first in the Artemis program – is billed as "the first integrated test of NASA's deep space exploration systems". NASA's plan is to send the SLS into space, whereupon the Orion capsule will head for the Moon.

Orion is designed to house up to six astronauts and sustain them for up to six months, thanks to its coupling with a service module stocked with supplies, fuel, and solar panels.

Artemis 1 SLS and Orion

Artemis 1, ready for final testing. Click to enlarge

The Artemis 1 mission plan calls for a trip around the Moon, including orbits just 100km above Luna's surface that will help Orion into a retrograde orbit around 70,000km from Earth's sole natural satellite. The capsule and service module will spend six days in that orbit, allowing NASA to monitor and test its systems to prove its readiness for crewed missions

A detailed mission plan can be viewed in the video below.

Youtube Video

NASA's not set a specific day for the Artemis 1 launch – perhaps because five tests remain before the mission is certified as ready to fly. The Artemis program has experienced many delays, so it would be no surprise if the February date slipped.

The Artemis program aims to send humans to the Moon, establish a permanent base there, and construct a "gateway" orbiting Luna that serves as a staging point for missions to the lunar surface and for crewed missions to other destinations in the solar system. The gateway is scheduled to launch in 2023, and the first crewed mission to the Moon is expected the following year. It is currently a bit fuzzy thanks to delays designing a suitable space suit.

The Artemis program is controversial because of that sort of delay and numerous cost overruns – plus the fact that private space outfits appear to have developed superior tech while NASA worked on its own efforts.

SpaceX's Starship, for example, has a spec that is more powerful than the SLS, and is rather more reusable.

There's also lots to like about Artemis, as it will mark NASA's return to crewed operations a decade after the last space shuttle flight. The program also plans to do bucketloads of science, and to set the stage for missions to Mars. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021