The first crewless test flight of NASA’s Artemis program, Artemis 1, is scheduled to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center on Monday morning.
No one will be inside the crew capsule on the 322-foot rocket. Inside will only be mannequins swarming with sensors to measure radiation while in space and vibration during launch. The launch is scheduled for 8:33 a.m. Monday, weather permitting.
The unpiloted Orion crew capsule is going on a 42-day trip around the moon. The capsule will fly in a distant orbit for a couple of weeks before heading back for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
WINK News spoke with FGCU professor Doctor Derek Buzasi, who once worked for NASA in the astrophysics division, and on the Hubble Telescope. He said he is looking forward to what’s next.
“Apollo inspired a generation of kids. So, my first memory as a child, when I was 4 years old, was watching the moon landing the first moon landing, sitting as a little kid on the carpet in my parents’ apartment and watching this, you know, crummy little black and white television. And of course, I still remember that, and I became an astronomer, probably partly because of that. So it does have that kind of level of inspiration for people. And I think that’s something that’s really important as well. We need to have that,” said Buzasi.
This will be the first mission like this since the early 70s. Buzasi said it replicates what NASA did with Apollo in many ways.
The capacity of the Artemis program is more than what Apollo was able to do. The Orion spacecraft will travel 30,000 miles farther than Apollo 13, which currently holds the distance record. Buzasi said he has a good feeling that we’ll go beyond that.
By 2024, the goal is to take the first woman and first person of color to the moon. Then after that, to send people to work in lunar orbit and on the moon’s surface.
Buzasi said one of the mission’s goals is to return astronauts to the moon, but it goes way beyond that. The Artemis mission will serve as a springboard to travel to Mars.
“It also lets us practice, right, because Mars is a really long way away. You know, when we send something to Mars down the road, it’s going to have to be very self-sufficient. Any mission we sent because its travel time is months. And so you can’t just fix things from here, they’ve got to be able to mission has to be able to handle that all of that on its own,” said Buzasi.
Buzasi said the big historical difference between Artemis 1 and Apollo is that with Apollo, we put astronauts on the surface for a few days, then they came back. Artemis is building toward a more permanent presence on the moon. He said if we go down the road a decade, we will essentially have structures and people there, most, if not all of the time.
Cameras inside and outside of the spacecraft will share images and videos throughout this mission, but how much cooler would it be to have an actual spacecraft of your own?
There are two family-friendly you can do at home to get in on the fun.
The first one will allow you to build your own rocket. You’ll only need basic school materials. You can follow the directions to cut and paste pieces of the cardboard together and at the end, have your own spacecraft.
The second activity gives you the chance to draw the spacecraft and some of its cool features, like the launch abort system at the top of the crew capsule that will get astronauts away from the rest of the launch vehicle in case of an emergency. Or the solid rocket boosters on the sides of Artemis 1. They burn approximately six tons of solid propellant each second to help lift the rocket into space. Their job is finished in just two minutes.
You can even get creative with your drawing and draw your face on the helmet of a space suit or fire roaring fire from the engines.
If you want to learn how to draw Artemis from NASA, click here.