NASA`s Artemis 1 Mission

On Sunday, December 11, at 9:40 AM PST (11:10 PM IST), NASA‘s Orion capsule came back to our planet and landed in the Pacific Ocean, thus completing the inaugural Artemis 1 lunar mission. This event was especially meaningful as it was exactly 50 years since the Apollo’s ultimate lunar landing.

According to a statement issued by NASA, the Orion capsule, which was fashioned in a gumdrop shape and had three dummies with sensors attached to them, landed in the Pacific Ocean near the Baja California peninsula. This mission also saw the implementation of a new landing maneuver termed ‘skip entry’, which is intended to aid the spacecraft to land directly in the designated spot. The Orion spaceship entered the Earth’s upper atmosphere and took advantage of the air and its lift to jump out of the atmosphere, and subsequently re-enter it again.

What makes the Artemis 1 mission noteworthy, and how is it divergent from NASA’s preceding moon-landing efforts? Additionally, what dangers did the capsule confront when it splashed into the water? Here, we can provide a response.

Toss a Football and Connecting it with a Penny

The Orion spacecraft had a 35-day mission during which it flew around the moon at a distance of 127 km. Upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, it was moving at a velocity of more than 40,000 kmph – over 30 times the speed of sound – which resulted in a 20-minute, blazing descent into the ocean, as reported by Reuters.

The main goal of the Artemis 1 mission was to assess if the space vehicle is capable of safely transporting humans to the moon and back in the future. Consequently, a safe re-entry was paramount to the success of the mission.

When the capsule returned to Earth, it experienced such a high degree of friction and pressure that the front-facing portion of its exterior had the possibility of reaching a temperature of about 3,000 degrees Celsius, according to BBC. Eric Coffman, the propulsion manager of Lockheed Martin Corp, who constructed the Orion on a contract with NASA, stated to Reuters, “It is analogous to throwing a football 300 yards and hitting a penny.”

Following its triumph, a manned Artemis II will embark on a round trip to the moon and back by 2024, with Artemis III coming a few years after which will transport astronauts, including a female, to the moon’s surface.

Aim of Artemis 1 Mission

NASA is viewing Artemis 1 as a bridge to greater accomplishments. This is the initial expedition in a sequence of missions that are intended to take people back to the Moon, as well as research the possibility of extended stays and investigate the potential to employ the Moon as a launching point for deep space explorations.

NASA`s Artemis 1 Mission

Jim Free, the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate’s associate administrator for NASA, stated, “Now that Orion has landed safely, we can start to see our next mission up ahead which will take a crew to the Moon for the first time as part of the new era of exploration. This is the start of our journey towards a regular rhythm of missions and a permanent human presence on the Moon for scientific investigation and to prepare for human expeditions to Mars.”

The Artemis missions will build on the progress of space technologies throughout the last few decades and establish the groundwork for more complex and ambitious missions in the future.

The goal is to take advantage of the resources located on the Moon, assemble them, and utilize either hydrogen or helium as an energy source.

What sets Artemis 1 apart from NASA’s prior lunar explorations?

The Indian Express previously reported that despite their ultimate goal of bringing humans back to the Moon, the Artemis missions will be notably dissimilar from the Apollo missions of the past half-century. The Moon landings of the 60s and 70s had been motivated by the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, with the latter already having achieved successes such as launching Sputnik, Luna 2 and sending the first man to space, Yuri Gagarin.

In 1961, President John F Kennedy declared that the United States would have a person on the Moon before the end of the decade. This goal was achieved through a huge effort of resources. However, the technology available at the time was not adequate to make the most of the tremendous scientific achievement, thus, the astronauts could only collect specimens to bring back to Earth for further examination.

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