NASA's Artemis II crew, consisting of NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Hammock Koch, and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen, are moving forward with their preparations for the historic mission—the first human flight to the vicinity of the Moon since the last Apollo mission in 1972. The crew members visited the Kennedy Space Center this week to discuss their training and readiness for the mission with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. NASA shared a video of their discussion, linked below.
The Artemis II mission will be launched by NASA's Space Launch System rocket, which is designed to propel the Orion spacecraft towards Lunar orbit. Upon a successful Artemis II mission, SpaceX will then collaborate to perform a third mission to land Artemis III astronauts on the Moon's surface. They plan to dock an Orion spacecraft to a Starship Human Landing System (HLS) in order to safely land two astronauts on the Moon. However, before this mission the Artemis II astronauts will test the Orion spacecraft's capabilities.
On August 8, the four Artemis II astronauts had the opportunity to explore the Orion spacecraft that will carry them on their circumlunar journey around the Moon, and they were visibly impressed by the progress of the hardware. Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen described the experience as spine-tingling, underscoring the emotional impact of seeing the capsule's real hardware up close. “Seeing the capsule for all of us sent shivers down our spines as we saw it for the first time inside. The real hardware made a real impression,” said Hansen.
“It was great to look inside," said Reid Wiseman, the Artemis II commander. "The fit and finish is gorgeous. It's neat to see the actual hardware all coming together. The things that we've learned about so far in training, to see it for real in the spacecraft, it just gave you a good sense of how far along this thing is. The hardware is nearly ready."
NASA astronaut Victor Glover humorously mentioned how the crew had discussed their favorite sleeping spots within the capsule during a tour earlier in the day.
During the press conference, NASA representatives discussed the Orion capsule’s software and development and that the Artemis II voyage around the Moon is currently planned for November 2024. NASA shared that the Artemis II mission is designed as a staged journey, allowing for potential stops at specific milestones before reaching the Moon. Artemis II's flight plan entails three Earth orbits, with the first orbit at around 1,400 miles above Earth, followed by an engine burn that will raise the spacecraft's apogee to 38,000 miles, considerably higher than geostationary orbit. Only if these initial orbits go as planned will the crew be authorized for trans-lunar injection to proceed toward the Moon.
Notably, the Artemis II crew visited Naval Base San Diego on July 19 for recovery training, an essential aspect of their mission. This training included collaboration with recovery team members from NASA's Exploration Ground Systems Program and the Department of Defense. The training aimed to ensure the safe retrieval of astronauts and the Orion spacecraft after they splash down in the Pacific Ocean following their voyage around the Moon.
During their visit to the naval base, the crew familiarize themselves with recovery procedures, equipment, and facilities. The crew will participate in full recovery testing at sea next year, refining the process of extracting astronauts from the spacecraft and conducting medical checks upon their return to the recovery ship.
As the Artemis II crew continues their intense training and preparations, these milestones underscore the progress being made toward their groundbreaking mission. The mission, slated for no earlier than November 2024, marks a significant leap forward in human space exploration and the journey back to lunar exploration.
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Featured Image Source: NASA
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.