The wait was not in vain: The launch of the Artemis I mission from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida went off without a hitch on Wednesday after multiple delays and two failed attempts due to technical and climate issues. This first launch of the most powerful SLS rocket ever launched by NASA marked the beginning of an ambitious American lunar program aimed at long-term human presence on the Earth’s satellite.
With the separation of stages completed, the Orion spacecraft, for which this is also the first flight, continued its single-handed race to the Moon for a 25-day mission that will test its capabilities to the maximum. After a week in orbit around the Moon, which it will reach in just under ten days, Orion will begin its return to our planet to land in the Pacific Ocean on December 11th.
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This epilogue will not be the last of the mission’s challenges. “During re-entry, the Orion shield will have to demonstrate that it is much better than any other thermal protection, withstanding temperatures of 1600 degrees,” explains Didier Schmitt, human and robotics research coordinator at the European Space Agency. (ESA). Because the speed of the lunar ship is incomparable with the speed of the ship returning from the International Space Station (ISS), and the physical phenomena caused by it, too.
Woman on the Moon in 2026
If all goes well, four people will be able to board the ship in 2024 and take a short walk around the moon. “For Wednesday’s flight, we haven’t fully developed the service module. [NDLR: un composant européen de la capsule Orion] : oxygen for passengers did not have to be installed, since it was not there. On the other hand, there will be very significant improvements for this Artemis II mission,” Didier Schmitt clarifies.
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The next one will be Artemis III, which will land four astronauts on the moon by 2026 (including the first woman). Are they European or European? Negotiations between departments are ongoing. There is no doubt that ESA astronauts will take part in the Artemis IV and V missions, which aim to launch and assemble the components of the future Gateway space station, which will orbit the Moon in 2027 and 2028, respectively. the latter, in particular, concerns the French ESPRIT module. A mission cut for Thomas Pesce?