NASA Showcases Orion Spacecraft Trio for Future Crewed Artemis Moon Missions

NASA Showcases Orion Spacecraft Trio for Future Crewed Artemis Moon Missions

The crew modules for NASA’s Artemis 2, 3 and 4 missions are currently stationed next to one another at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with the three spacecraft undergoing different stages of production for their upcoming launch dates.

NASA recently shared a group photo of its Orion crew capsules inside the high bay of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building, revealing the spacecraft trio coming together ahead of humanity’s return to the Moon.

The Artemis 2 spacecraft is designed to carry astronauts on a journey to the Moon and back in late 2024. NASA technicians recently installed the heat shield on the Artemis 2 Orion capsule, which is designed to protect the crew and the spacecraft during its reentry through Earth’s atmosphere. Orion’s heat shield will experience scorching temperatures as high as 2,760 Celsius, or about half as hot at the Sun, during its return, according to NASA.

Artemis 3 is tentatively scheduled in for launch in 2025, the first mission of NASA’s lunar program designed to land astronauts on the Moon. The Artemis 3 crew module was recently removed from the clean room inside the high bay in order to to undergo a series of pressure and leak tests, NASA wrote.

The crew module for the Artemis 4 mission is still in the early stages of its assembly process, having only arrived at the spaceport in February. Artemis 4 still has a long way ahead of it as the mission is currently scheduled for liftoff in 2028, carrying a crew of astronauts to the lunar surface.

The first Orion spacecraft flew to the Moon in November 2022, surviving a historic 1.4 million mile journey to the Moon and back for the uncrewed Artemis 1 mission. Orion made history as the fastest human-rated spacecraft to return from the Moon, hitting the atmosphere at speeds of around 39,590 kilometres per hour.

The Artemis 1 mission was a test of both the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft as NASA prepares to launch the Orion capsule with a crew on board.

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