It was 7 a.m. in France when Artemis 1 and the SLS rocket took off on Wednesday. The rocket has now orbited the Earth for more than 24 hours. The small module at its top is now alone and Orion must use its engines to take the direction of the Moon.
In an official announcement, NASA has just confirmed that the lunar module has correctly carried out its first trajectory modification. Thanks to this new thrust, the module should succeed in tearing itself away from Earth’s gravity and heading for the Moon.
The Moon at the end of the road
A first step in this Artemis 1 mission which marks the beginning of serious things for NASA engineers. With the stress of take-off behind them, they must now ensure that the module follows its trajectory before coming into orbit around the Moon.
Once as close as possible to our satellite, the small Orion module will circle it one and a half times, taking advantage of its gravitational force to “catapult” itself towards Earth. If the mission plan is well established, NASA is not there yet, and Orion still has thousands of kilometers to travel before finding the upper layers of our Earth’s atmosphere.
Today NASA, as well as the ESA (European space agency) confirmed that Orion had carried out an ignition of the engines of 18 minutes allowing to correct the trajectory of the small device in the direction of the Moon.
Push Orion to his limits
In addition to this very first ignition of Orion’s engines, NASA announces that it has succeeded in operating the four solar panels of the device. Artemis 1 is a crucial mission for this. It should allow NASA to know at the fingertips the operation of its new module.
And for good reason, the next time Orion finds himself in the air, four human lives will be inside the ship. The American space agency can therefore leave no room for doubt or uncertainty. She has already announced that she will carry out new tests in the coming days to verify that the module responds correctly in all cases.
Artemis 1: the beginning
Artemis 1 is the first of a three-mission sequence that aims to return men to the Moon. With Artemis 2 a crew of four should fly over the Moon without landing there and return to Earth after several orbits around our satellite. Artemis 3, scheduled for 2025, is undoubtedly the most important mission.
During this flight two people, probably a woman and a person of color will take the direction of the lunar ground and tread on our satellite for the first time since 1972. The objective for NASA will then be, if the financing allows it, to make one flight a year around the Moon to build a space station in orbit: Gateway.