Artemis 1 (known as Exploration Mission-1 or EM-1 before the introduction of the Artemis program) is the second planned flight of the uncrewed Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle to be launched on the first flight of the Space Launch System. The launch is planned from Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center no earlier than November 2020. The Orion spacecraft will spend approximately 3 weeks in space, including 6 days in a retrograde orbit around the Moon. It is planned to be followed by Artemis 2 between 2022 and 2023.
|Names||Space Launch System-1 (SLS-1)|
Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1)
|Mission type||Lunar orbital test flight|
|Mission duration||Planned: 25.5 days|
|Distance travelled||Planned: 1.3 million mi (2.1 million km)|
|Spacecraft type||Orion MPCV|
|Manufacturer||Lockheed Martin / Airbus|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||NET November 2020|
|Rocket||SLS Block 1|
|Launch site||Kennedy LC-39B|
|End of mission|
|Landing site||Pacific Ocean|
The Block 1 version of the SLS rocket used on this mission will consist of two five-segment Solid Rocket Boosters, four RS-25D engines built for the Space Shuttle program and an Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage. Artemis 1 mission is intended to demonstrate the integrated spacecraft systems prior to a crewed flight, and in addition, test a high speed reentry (11 km/s or 6.8 mi/s) on Orion's thermal protection system.
On 16 January 2013, NASA announced that the European Space Agency will build the Orion service module based on its Automated Transfer Vehicle, so the flight could also be regarded as a test of ESA hardware as well as American, and of how the ESA components interact with the American Orion components.
The Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) flight article was consciously constructed in a way that if all the missing components (seats, life support systems) were added, it would not meet the mass target.
In January 2015 NASA and Lockheed announced that the primary structure in the Orion spacecraft would be up to 25 percent lighter compared to the previous one. This would be achieved by reducing the number of cone panels from six (EFT-1) to three (EM-1), reducing the total number of welds from 19 to 7, saving the additional mass of the weld material. Other savings would be due to revisiting its various components and wiring. For Artemis 1, the Orion spacecraft will be outfitted with a complete life support system and crew seats, but will be left uncrewed. On the seats, two mannequins will be strapped and used as radiation imaging phantoms.
This mission will be uncrewed, however NASA did initiate a study in 2017 to investigate a crewed version of the mission. A crewed version of EM-1 would have been composed of a crew of two astronauts, and the flight time would be much shorter than the uncrewed version due to safety reasons. The study investigated a crewed mission even with the possibility of further delays to the launch. On 12 May 2017 NASA revealed that it will not be sending astronauts to space for Orion's EM-1 mission following a months-long feasibility study.
On 13 March 2019, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine testified in front of a Senate hearing that NASA is considering moving the Orion spacecraft that was to fly on the first Space Launch System mission to commercial rockets to keep that mission on schedule for mid-2020. Bridenstine stated that the "SLS is struggling to meet its schedule," and that "We're now understanding better how difficult this project is and that it is going to take some additional time." Bridenstine propped that NASA is considering launching the Orion spacecraft being built for Artemis 1 on commercial vehicles such as a Falcon Heavy or Delta IV Heavy. The mission would require two launches: one to place the Orion spacecraft into orbit around the Earth, and a second carrying an upper stage. The two would then dock while in Earth orbit and the upper stage would ignite to send Orion to the Moon. One challenge with this option would be carrying out that docking as NASA does not have an ability to dock the Orion crew capsule with anything in orbit until Artemis 3. This idea was put on hold[when?] due to a study concluding that it would delay the mission further.
Originally, the mission was planned to follow a circumlunar trajectory without entering orbit around the Moon. Current plans will have the Orion spacecraft spend approximately 3 weeks in space, including 6 days in a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon.
NASA has partnered with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) in conjunction with StemRad and Lockheed Martin to perform the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE), which will measure tissue radiation dose deposition and test the effectiveness of the AstroRad radiation vest in the radiation environment beyond low Earth orbit. While radiation shielding strategies of the past have relied on storm shelters in which astronauts can seek refuge when solar storms erupt, the AstroRad's ergonomic design provides a mobile protection system with a similar shielding factor as storm shelters without hindering the astronauts' ability to perform their tasks.
The crew compartment of the uncrewed Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft will include two female mannequin imaging phantoms which will be exposed to the radiation environment along the lunar orbit, including solar storms and galactic cosmic rays. One phantom will be shielded with the AstroRad vest and the other will be left unprotected. The phantoms provide the opportunity to precisely measure radiation exposure not only at the surface of the body but also at the exact location of sensitive organs and tissues inside the human body. Radiation exposure will be measured with the implementation of both passive and active dosimeters intentionally distributed throughout the inside of the anthropomorphic phantoms at precise locations of sensitive tissues and high stem cell concentrations. The results of MARE should enable Orion as a platform for other scientific experiments, provide accurate radiation risk projections of deep space exploration, and validate the protective properties of the AstroRad vest.
Thirteen low-cost CubeSat missions were competitively selected as secondary payloads on the Artemis 1 (EM-1 at the time) test flight. All of them have the 6-unit configuration, and will reside within the second stage on the launch vehicle from which they will be deployed. Two CubeSats have been selected through NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnership, three through the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, two through the Science Mission Directorate, and three were chosen from submissions by NASA's international partners. The CubeSat spacecraft selected are:
- ArgoMoon, designed by Argotec and coordinated by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), is designed to image the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) of Orion for mission data and historical records. It will demonstrate technologies necessary for a small spacecraft to maneuver and operate near the ICPS.
- BioSentinel is an astrobiology mission that will use yeast to detect, measure, and compare the impact of deep space radiation on living organisms over long durations beyond low-Earth orbit.
- CubeSat for Solar Particles (CuSP), designed at the Southwest Research Institute will study the dynamic particles and magnetic fields that stream from the Sun and as a proof of concept for the feasibility of a network of stations to track space weather.
- EQUULEUS, designed by Japan's JAXA and the University of Tokyo, will image Earth's plasmasphere to study the radiation environment around the Earth while demonstrating low thrust maneuvers for trajectory control in the space between Earth and the Moon.
- Lunar Flashlight is a lunar orbiter that will seek exposed water ice, and map its concentration at the 1–2 km (0.62–1.24 mi) scale within the permanently shadowed regions of the lunar south pole.
- Lunar IceCube, a lunar orbiter designed at the Morehead State University, will search for additional evidence of lunar water ice from a low lunar orbit.
- Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper (LunaH-Map), a lunar orbiter designed at the Arizona State University, will map hydrogen within craters near the lunar south pole, tracking depth and distribution of hydrogen-rich compounds like water. It will use a neutron detector to measure the energies of neutrons that interacted with material in the lunar surface. Its mission is planned to last 60 days and perform 141 orbits of the Moon.
- Near-Earth Asteroid Scout is proof-of-concept of a controllable CubeSat solar sail spacecraft capable of encountering near-Earth asteroids (NEA). Observations will be achieved through a close (~10 km or 6.2 mi) flyby and using a high resolution science-grade monochromatic camera to measure the physical properties of a near-Earth asteroid. A variety of potential targets would be identified based upon launch date, time of flight, and rendezvous velocity.
- OMOTENASHI, designed by JAXA, is a lander probe to study the lunar radiation environment.
- SkyFire is a spacecraft designed by Lockheed Martin to fly by the Moon and collect surface spectroscopy and thermography.
The remaining three slots were selected through a competition pitting CubeSat teams from the United States against each other in a series of ground tournaments called 'NASA's Cube Quest Challenge', and were announced by NASA Ames on 8 June 2017. The competition was to contribute to opening deep-space exploration to non-government spacecraft. These slots were awarded to:
- Cislunar Explorers will demonstrate the viability of water electrolysis propulsion and interplanetary optical navigation to orbit the Moon. It was designed by Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
- Earth Escape Explorer (CU-E3) will demonstrate long-distance communications while in heliocentric orbit. It was designed by the University of Colorado in Boulder.
- Team Miles will demonstrate long-distance communications while in heliocentric orbit and show low-thrust trajectory control techniques by employing a hybrid ion thruster. It was designed by Fluid and Reason, LLC, Tampa, Florida.
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