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Lockheed Martin operates Artemis 2 Orion, updates status of other capsules –



Lockheed Martin has completed the first operation of an Orion capsule for the Artemis 2 mission – the first Orion capsule to be commissioned to carry humans.

As work continues on that capsule, Lockheed Martin – the main contractor for the Orion spacecraft – has provided updates to the other three capsules, and three European service units, currently in various stages of their respective flows for Artemis 1, 2 and 3 missions.

Orion Boost Artemis 2

The significant achievement of all spacecraft is the first power supply – a milestone Orion capsule for Artemis 2 Achieved in the week of May 23rd.

“We just got it working for the first time, and it’s a huge achievement for us because we’ve been working on it now for several years,” said Jules Schneider, director of Orion Assembly, Testing, and Launch Operations at Lockheed Martin. A position responsible for overseeing the assembly and testing of the spacecraft up to the point at which it is delivered to NASA.

Schneider himself has been with the Orion program since its inception and was part of the team that drafted the initial proposal for the spacecraft when it was part of the now-cancelled Constellation program.

The Artemis 2 Orion capsule is currently located in the Operations and Checkout (O&C) Building at the Kennedy Space Center, where Orions are assembled and somewhat tested.

An Artemis II Orion missile inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building. (credit: NASA)

“We finally got enough avionics, electronics, all the wiring and everything else needed on the plane and integrated so we could get it up and running for the first time, load the flight software, etc.” Schneider related.

Certain functional checks on the nascent state of the capsule are currently being performed, with Schneider noting that there is still a significant amount of assembly and integration work for this capsule even though it is far in the overall construction lifecycle.

Meanwhile, this Orion’s European Service Module (ESM) is also at the Kennedy Space Center Preparations are underway for integrated testing and flight.

European service modele is integrated into the Crew Module Adapter, which is part of the Service Module [Lockheed Martin] Builds and tests,” Schneider noted. “This is all perfectly integrated. So if you’re going out to the store floor, you’ll see a service unit that’s almost completely assembled and still has some work to do and some unit level testing.”

He continued, “The stage we’re at now for Artemis 2 is that we’re getting into a more central testing phase versus the assembly or build phase. We still have some environmental testing to do, we have a thermal cycle.” [tests] At unit levels for both the crew unit and the service unit. We have live field acoustics that need to be done at the unit level for both the crew unit and the service unit.”

Then, the next step will be to test the vacuum on the Orion integrated array (which includes the service module) before handing the system over to NASA for stacking and flight. Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

The launch abortive system detaches from the Orion capsule during Asmi’s ascent into orbit. After detaching the Solid Rocket Booster, Orion’s European Service Module engines have enough power to safely propel Orion away from the primary SLS stage or the temporary cooled thrust stage. (credit: Mac Crawford for NSF)

This delivery to NASA is currently targeted for the fourth quarter of 2023.

Orion for Artemis 1

Meanwhile, Artemis 1’s older brother Orion has so far passed his part of the expedition’s wet clothes rehearsal with flying colors.

Schneider noted, “My understanding is that the Orion for Artemis 1 performed very well during the ground-handling test and wet-clothes rehearsal test.” “And we support all of that because Orion is up and running while all the systems are being monitored. Orion has been doing really well.”

after, after Lockheed Martin Artemis 1 Orion delivered to NASAthe US space agency moved the assembly to a hazardous processing facility where it was refueled for the mission and its inert launch thwart system was installed.

The completed Orion stack was then moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and hoisted over the SLS at High Bay 3 of the building. Its stacking marked the first time a complete SLS missile had been assembled and tested as a fully integrated system.

This mighty lacks a few things – in particular The Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) is fully functional – This will be required when streaming Orion in the future for Artemis 2 and beyond.

Schneider noted: “In Artemis 1, we do not manage everything but part of the ECLSS subsystems.” “The subsystems that are involved in keeping humans alive or communicating with humans, are not flown aboard the Artemis 1, so you won’t get any data back until the Artemis 2 flies.”

“So even Artemis 2 will be a development journey because this is the first time that a fully equipped Orion spacecraft has flown.”

Along the same lines, Orion’s Launch Abort System (LAS), built by Northrop Grumman, is inert for Artemis 1. Since there is no crew for the mission, and since only some Artemis 1 Orion avionics assemblies and seats are planned to be reused (with total vehicle re-flight not planned), there is no compelling need to perform an active abort of the system on the first flight as Orion recovery is in A launch failure will not – in practice – speed up the timetable for return to flight.

Therefore, the LAS will be inactive for Artemis 1 but fully active for Artemis 2 and later.

To this, Schneider noted, “We have already tested the launch abort system, both from Point of View Foil Pad The viewpoint of abortion ascension. So we’ve already verified, if you will, that the Launch Abort system is working.”

Orion for Artemis 3 … the first to be reused

While no reuse of Orions for Artemis 1 and 2 is planned, This will change with Orion currently being built for Artemis 3 – the planned mission to return humans to the lunar surface for the first time in more than 50 years after the departure of Apollo 17 on December 14, 1972..

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After bringing the Artemis 3 crew back to Earth, the current plan is to take the capsule, refurbish it, and fly it back on Artemis 6.

But before that, the capsule must be fully built, tested and prepared for its first flight.

Crew unit pressure shell [has been] Schneider said. “It’s going well.”

All basic structure assemblies are complete in this capsule as well as proof tests on its structure.

Teams are currently installing hundreds of brackets and various secondary structure elements that will hold cables, avionics boxes, systems, etc. These are known as secondary structures.

“That’s the point we’re at right now,” Schneider noted. “And after that’s completed this summer, we’ll go to the cleanroom and start integrating the propulsion and ECLSS systems.”

The main body of the Artemis 3 Service Module 3 arrives at the Airbus integration hall in Bremen, Germany for commissioning after its initial structural construction in Turin, Italy. (credit: ESA)

“We’ll be in the cleanroom for months doing that. And then, when we get out, we start doing the electrical integration. Same lifecycle as Artemis 2, but Artemis 3, I say, we’re still in the early stages of it.”

The crew module adapter for this flight is also well underway.

“We’re building it from the ground up. It’s a mechanically composite structure,” Schneider added. “And that’s what we’re working on now, the structural part of it.”

“And it has a similar life cycle to the new unit in that once we do the structural integration, we do the propulsion system and ECLSS integration and then we move on to the electrical integration. So it’s not as complicated as the crew model.”

Work is being done on the Crew Module adapter in parallel with the construction of the European Service Module for this flight. ESM-3 is currently in Bremen, Germany, where it is undergoing construction and propulsion prior to shipment to the Kennedy Space Center next year.

“Once we have the ESU, we will merge the two.”

An overview of the structure and function of the European Service Unit. (credit: ESA)

European service units and . are funded Built by the European Space Agency (ESA) In a barter agreement with NASA for crew time International Space Station (Service units for Artemis 1, 2, 3 and 6) as well as for time and ESA’s contribution to Moon Gate (Service units for Artemis 4 and 5).

Orion capsules from Artemis 4 and 5 – the latest Orion designs currently planned

Overall, Orion for Artemis 4 is currently undergoing pressure vessel construction at the Michoud Assembly facility in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Expected to be delivered to Kennedy Space Center In February 2023 for the construction of primary and secondary buildings.

It will then follow the Artemis 5 Orion’s pressure vessel.

Under the current contract with NASA, Lockheed Martin is responsible for building and delivering Orions through Artemis 5.

Beginning with Artemis 6, the plan is to reuse the three fully functional Orions for future Artemis crew missions.

(Main image: Orion’s view of lunar space. Credit: Mack Crawford for NSF)

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NASA will launch the CAPSTONE mission on Monday, June 27 –



Rocket Lab's Electron rocket sits atop the launch pad at Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand for a rehearsal before the CAPSTONE launch.

A small satellite is preparing to pave the way for something much greater: a fully grown lunar space station. NASA’s CAPSTONE satellite is scheduled to launch on Monday and then travel to a unique lunar orbit on the Pathfinder mission Artemis programwhich seeks to return humans to the moon later this decade.

capstone He rides aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket, which will take off from the private company’s Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand. Rocket Lab made headlines in May using a helicopter to catch a falling booster missile. CAPSTONE is scheduled to launch at 6 AM ET on June 27 with live coverage starting an hour earlier. You can watch the event in the agency website or ApplicationOr, you can watch it on the live stream below.

NASA Live: The official broadcast of NASA TV

About a week after the CAPSTONE mission, the probe’s flight will be available through NASA Eyes on the solar system Interactive 3D visualization of data in real time.

The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) mission will send a microwave-sized satellite into near corona orbit (NRHO) around the moon. The satellite will be the first to sail its way around this unique lunar orbit, testing it for the planned date Moon Gatea small space station intended to allow a permanent human presence on the moon.

NRHO is special in that it is where the gravitational force of the Moon and Earth interact. This orbit would theoretically keep the spacecraft in a “beautiful gravitational spot” in a near-stable orbit around the Moon, according to to NASA. Therefore NRHO is ideal because it will require less fuel than conventional orbits and will allow the proposed lunar space station to maintain a stable line of communication with Earth. But before NASA builds its gateway into this highly elliptical orbit, the space agency will use CAPSTONE — which is owned and operated by Colorado-based Advanced Space — to test its orbital models.

Artist’s concept of CAPSTONE.
GIF: NASA/Daniel Rutter

Six days after launch from Earth, the upper stage of the Electron rocket will launch the CAPSTONE satellite on its journey to the Moon. The 55-pound (25-kilogram) cube vehicle will perform the rest of the four-month solo journey. Once on the moon, CAPSTONE will test the orbital dynamics of its orbit for about six months. The satellite will also be used to test spacecraft-to-spacecraft navigation technology and unidirectional range capabilities that could eventually reduce the need for future spacecraft to communicate with mission controllers on Earth and wait for signals from other spacecraft to relay.

NASA is systematically putting together the pieces for the agency’s planned return to the Moon. The The fourth and final rehearsal for the space agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) went wellpaving the way for a possible launch in late August.

more: This small satellite linked to the moon can make a path to the lunar space station

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Astronaut view of New Zealand's North Island –



Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features the North Island of New Zealand. The photo was captured as the International Space Station (ISS) approached the southernmost extent of its prograde 51.6 degree orbit. 

From this vantage point – and with the perfect weather conditions – astronauts can get a clear view of the North Island of New Zealand, according  to ESA.

“Looking towards the northwest, the astronaut photographer captured the mottled-green island that separates the Tasman Sea from the South Pacific Ocean. On the other side of Cook Strait, South Island peeks out from beneath the cloud cover,” reports ESA.

“Seven bays surround the North Island and define its distinctive shape. The inland landscape includes grasslands (lighter green areas), forests (darker green areas), volcanic plateaus, and mountain ranges formed from sedimentary rocks.”

Lake Taupō, located in the center of the North Island, is a crater lake inside a caldera formed by a supervolcanic eruption. The lake borders the active volcano Mount Ruapehu, which has the highest peak in New Zealand. 

“The volcanic nature of the island arises from its location on the tectonic plate boundary between the Indo-Australian and Pacific Plates,” says ESA. “This plate boundary is part of the vast Pacific Ring of Fire, and leads to significant geothermal activity and earthquakes in the region. Additional volcanoes, including Egmont Volcano (Mount Taranaki), also dot the North Island landscape.”

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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Artemis 1 moon mission could launch as soon as late August –



NASA officials have declared the Artemis 1 moon rocket’s most recent “wet dress rehearsal” a success and are hopeful the mission can get off the ground as soon as late August.

The Artemis 1 stack — a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket topped by an Orion capsule — is scheduled to roll back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on July 1, where the massive vehicle will undergo repairs and preparations for its coming launch. 

Artemis 1, the first launch for the SLS, will send an uncrewed Orion on a roughly month-long mission around the moon. The mission has experienced several delays, and most recently the rocket’s certification to fly has been held up by incomplete fueling tests — a key part of the wet dress rehearsal, a three-day series of trials designed to gauge a new vehicle’s readiness for flight. 

Related: NASA’s Artemis 1 moon mission explained in photos 

The Artemis 1 stack first rolled from the VAB to KSC’s Pad 39B in mid-March, to prep for a wet dress rehearsal that began on April 1. But three separate attempts to fill the SLS with cryogenic propellants during that effort failed, sending the stack back to the VAB for repairs on April 25. The most recent wet dress try, which wrapped up on Monday (June 20), didn’t go perfectly, but NASA has deemed it good enough to proceed with preparations for launch.

Operators were able to fully fuel SLS for the first time, bringing the launch simulation much further along than any of the attempts in April. A leak from the core stage’s engine cooling system “umbilical” line was detected during Monday’s fueling test, but mission managers determined that the deviation didn’t pose a safety risk and continued with the simulation’s terminal count. That ended up being the right decision, Artemis 1 team members said.  

Mission operators were able to run a “mask” for the leak in the ground launch sequencer software, which permitted computers in mission control to acknowledge the malfunction without flagging it as a reason to halt the countdown, according to Phil Weber, senior technical integration manager at KSC. Weber joined other agency officials on a press call Friday (June 24) to discuss the plans for Artemis 1 now that the wet dress is in the rear view mirror.

The software mask allowed the count to continue through to the handoff from the mission control computers to the automated launch sequencer (ALS) aboard the SLS at T-33 seconds, which ultimately terminated the count at T-29 seconds. 

“[ALS] was really the prize for us for the day,” Weber said during Friday’s call. “We expected … it was going to break us out [of the countdown] because the ALS looks for that same measurement, and we don’t have the capability to mask it onboard.” 

It was unclear immediately following the recent wet dress if another one would be required, but mission team members later put that question to rest.

“At this point, we’ve determined that we have successfully completed the evaluations and required work we intended to complete for the dress rehearsal,” Tom Whitmeyer, deputy associate administrator for Common Exploration Systems at NASA headquarters, said on Friday’s call. He added that NASA teams now have the “go ahead to proceed” with preparations for Artemis 1’s launch.

Before it can be rolled back to the VAB, however, the stack will undergo further maintenance at Pad 39B, including repairs to the quick-disconnect component on the aft SLS umbilical, which was responsible for Monday’s hydrogen leak. 

There’s also one more test technicians need to perform at the pad. Hot-firing the hydraulic power units (HBUs), part of the SLS’ solid rocket boosters, was originally part of the wet dress countdown but was omitted when the countdown was aborted. Those tests will be completed by Saturday (June 25), according to Lanham. Following the hot-fire tests, operators will then spend the weekend offloading the HBUs’ hydrazine fuel.

Once back in the VAB, NASA officials estimate it’ll take six to eight weeks of work to get Artemis 1 ready to roll back to Pad 39B for an actual liftoff. Cliff Lanham, senior vehicle operations manager at KSC, outlined some of the planned maintenance on Friday’s call. 

Related: NASA’s Artemis program of lunar exploration

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Among other tasks, technicians will perform standard vehicle inspections, hydrogen leak repairs, “late-stow” for the payloads flying on Orion, and software loads to the SLS core stage and upper stage. They will also install flight batteries.

“Ultimately, we want to get to our flight termination system testing,” Lanham said. “Once that’s complete, we’ll be able to perform our final inspections in all the volumes of the vehicle and do our closeouts.”

After that work is complete, the Artemis 1 stack will roll out from the VAB once again, making the eight to 11-hour crawl back to Pad 39B on July 1. Whitmeyer said on Friday that the late-August launch window for Artemis 1, which opens on Aug. 23 and lasts for one week, is “still on the table.”

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