Artemis 2 delayed: should aim for the moon in 2025

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The quartet of astronauts selected for the next trip to the Moon (without the originally planned landing) will have to wait until 2025 for this mission. The announcement was made on January 9, 2024 by NASA during a press conference confirming the postponement of two more Artemis program missions, each by nearly year. The news comes as the fate of private company Astrobotic’s Peregrine probe, which was supposed to reach the moon, looks increasingly in jeopardy and is unlikely to succeed due to a serious anomaly.

Safety first. The Artemis 2 mission, originally planned for November at the Kennedy Space Center, will therefore now launch in September 2025 at the earliest. Artemis 3, which includes the first crewed landing on the moon since 1972, has been pushed back to September 2026. remains a top priority and that despite the challenges, progress is remarkable.

The delay is attributed to several factors, including technical problems that emerged during analysis after the Artemis 1 mission. Problems were found with the heat shield system protecting the Orion crew capsule during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. These issues, including shrinking some parts of the heat shield, require a thorough review and update of the thermal, mechanical, and material models.

Return jump. During the re-entry phase, some pieces of the heat shield actually separated due to a “jump maneuver”, a technique used to deal with extreme temperatures (approx. 2,750 °C), which accumulates as the capsule passes through the Earth’s atmosphere at an almost unbelievable speed of 40,000 kilometers per hour. The jump maneuver consists in bouncing the capsule off the Earth’s atmosphere like a flat stone thrown on the surface of water. In any case, NASA emphasizes that on that occasion the safety of the crew would not be compromised, and confirmed that if the astronauts were on board during Artemis 1, they would not perceive any problems in the cabin.

Other challenges include a design flaw in the circuits used in life support systems such as the carbon dioxide scrubber. This failure requires the replacement of critical hardware that is difficult to access due to the configuration of the spacecraft.

Not only. In addition, there are also delays in the construction of the first modules of the Gateway lunar space station, originally planned for late 2025.

It is possible that the launch date will be moved further.

In short, the Artemis mission suffers from delays due to some technical complications, requiring in-depth revisions and in some cases replacement of key components.



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