NASA launches its Mega Moon rocket – here’s what you need to know

WASHINGTON: NASA’s giant new rocket began its first voyage on the launchpad on Thursday, clearing it to blast before a test battery. The moon This summer.
It left the Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building at 5:47 pm Eastern Time (2147 GMT) and began an 11-hour journey on a crawler-transporter to the Holy Launch Complex 39B, four miles (6.5 kilometers) away.
About 10,000 people gathered to watch the event.
With the Orion Crew capsule fixed at the top, the Space Launch System (SLS) Block 1 is 322 feet (98 m) high – taller than the Statue of Liberty, but slightly smaller than the 363-foot Saturn V rocket that powered Apollo. Missions to the moon.
Despite this, it will produce 8.8 million pounds of maximum thrust (39.1 meganutons), which is 15 percent more than Saturn V, meaning it is expected to be the world’s most powerful rocket when it starts operating.
“Ladies and gentlemen, here is the most powerful rocket in the world!” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told the crowd. “We imagine, we create, we never stop pushing the envelope of what is possible.”
A symbol of US space ambition, it also comes with a hefty price tag: $ 4.1 billion per launch for the first four Artemis missions, NASA Inspector General Paul Martin Told Congress this month.
After arriving at the launchpad, the value is checked for about two weeks before the so-called “wet dress rehearsal”.
The SLS team will load more than 700,000 gallons (3.2 million liters) of cryogenic propellant into the rocket and practice each phase of the launch countdown, pausing for ten seconds before exploding.
NASA is targeting May as the earliest window for Artemis-1, an uncrowned lunar mission that will be the first integrated flight for SLS and Orion.
The SLS will first place Orion in low Earth orbit, and then, using its upper phase, do what is called a trans-lunar injection.
This maneuver is required to send Orion 280,000 miles from Earth and 40,000 miles outside the Moon – more than any spaceship capable of carrying humans.
On its three-week mission, Orion will deploy 10 showbox-sized satellites called cubesets to gather information about deep space atmospheres.
Its “passengers” will include three mannequins and a plush collection of radiation data. Snoopy Toy, long NASA mascot.
It will travel around the far side of the moon using the thrust provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) thruster and eventually return to Earth, where its heat shield will be tested against the atmosphere.
Splashdown Occurs in the Pacific, off the coast of California.
Artemis-2 will be the first crew test to fly around the moon but will not land, while Artemis-3, scheduled for 2025, will see the first woman and the first person of color at the moon’s south pole.
NASA wants to establish a permanent presence on the moon, and using the SLS’s Block 2 evolution, in the 2030s, to use it as a proven ground for the techniques needed for the Mars mission.
NASA calls the SLS a “super heavy lift exploration class vehicle.” The only super heavy rocket currently in operation is the Falcon Heavy of SpaceX, which is smaller.
Elon Musk’s company is also developing its own deep space rocket, a fully reusable starship, which it says should be ready for orbital tests this year.
The starship will be both bigger and more powerful than the SLS: 394 feet high with a 17 million pound thrust. It can also be significantly cheaper.
The businessman suggested that within years, the cost per launch could be as low as 10 million.
The direct comparison is complicated by the fact that while the SLS is designed to fly directly to its destinations, SpaceX predicts to put the starship into orbit and then refuel it with another starship so that it can continue its journey, extending the range and payload.
NASA has also contracted a version of Starship as a lunar vehicle for Artemis.
Other super heavy rockets under development include Blue Origins New Glen, Long March 9 in China and Yenisei in Russia.


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