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Launch of Artemis I Mission

  • 26 Aug 2022
  • 8 min read

For Prelims: UPSC, IAS, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Artemis I, moon mission, Chandrayaan project, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), History of Moon Exploration

For Mains: Space Exploration, Moon mission, Sending Human on Moon and Mars.

Why in News?

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is about to launch its Artemis Program.

What is Artemis I Mission?

  • Artemis I is an uncrewed mission of NASA.
  • It will test the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion crew capsule.
  • Artemis I will be the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to build a long-term human presence at the Moon for decades to come.
    • The primary goals for Artemis I are to demonstrate Orion’s systems in a spaceflight environment and ensure a safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery prior to the first flight with crew on Artemis II.

What will be the Key Events During the Mission?

  • Artemis I launch
    • The SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft have completed their journey from their assembly building to Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
    • At launch, the rocket will produce a maximum of more than 3.9 million kilograms of thrust from its four RS-25 engines and five-segment boosters.
    • Shortly after launch, the boosters, service module and launch abort systems will be offloaded.
    • Then, the core stage engines will be shut down and the core stage will separate from the spacecraft.
  • Artemis I: Trajectory to the moon
    • After launch, the spacecraft will orbit the Earth and deploy its solar arrays.
    • Next, the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) will give Orion a “push” to help it leave Earth’s orbit and travel toward the planet’s only natural satellite.
    • Then, within about two hours from launch time, when the spacecraft is on a trajectory to the Moon, it will separate from ICPS.
    • When it separates from the spacecraft, ICPS will deploy small satellites, known as CubeSats to send them on their journey to deep space.
      • This includes BioSentinel, which will carry yeast into deep space to study the effects of deep space radiation on living matter.
      • The other CubeSats will also perform many science and technology demonstrations.
  • Artemis I: Moon orbit
    • On its path to the Moon, Orion will be propelled by a service module built by the European Space Agency.
      • Apart from supplying the spacecraft’s propulsion system and power, the service module is also designed to house air and water for future crewed missions.
    • Once it enters the Moon’s orbit, the spacecraft will collect data.
    • Afterwards, Orion will use a precisely timed engine firing of the service module in combination with the Moon’s gravity to accelerate back towards our planet.
  • Artemis I: Reentry into Earth’s atmosphere
    • After a total mission time of around 6 weeks, Orion will enter Earth’s atmosphere.
    • And if all goes as planned, it will land in the sea, within eyesight of a recovery ship stationed off the coast of Baja in California.

What is the History of Moon Exploration?

  • In 1959, the Soviet Union’s uncrewed Luna 1 and 2 became the first rover to visit the Moon.
  • The US began trying to put people in space as early as 1961.
  • Eight years later, on 20th July, 1969, Neil Armstrong along with Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first human to step on the Moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission.
    • Before the USA sent the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, it sent three classes of robotic missions between 1961 and 1968.
  • After July 1969, 12 American astronauts walked on the surface of the Moon until 1972.
  • In the 1990s, the USA resumed lunar exploration with robotic missions Clementine and Lunar Prospector.
  • In 2009, it began a new series of robotic lunar missions with the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS).
  • In 2011, NASA began the ARTEMIS.
  • In 2012, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft studied the Moon’s gravity.
  • Apart from the USA, the European Space Agency, Japan, China, and India have sent missions to explore the Moon.
  • China landed two rovers on the surface, which includes the first-ever landing on the Moon’s far side in 2019.

What are ISRO’s Moon Exploration Efforts?

  • Chandrayaan 1:
    • The Chandrayaan project began in 2007 with an agreement between India’s space agency ISRO and Russia’s ROSCOSMOS for mutual cooperation.
    • However, the mission was postponed in January 2013 and rescheduled to 2016 as Russia was unable to develop the lander on time.
    • Findings: Confirmed presence of lunar water.
      • Evidence of lunar caves formed by an ancient lunar lava flow.
      • Past tectonic activity was found on the lunar surface.
      • The faults and fractures discovered could be features of past interior tectonic activity coupled with meteorite impacts.
  • Chandrayaan-2 is India's second mission to the moon and comprises a fully indigenous Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan).
    • The Rover Pragyan is housed inside Vikram lander.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently announced India’s third lunar mission Chandrayaan-3, which will comprise a lander and a rover.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question

Q. Which of the following pairs is/are correctly matched? (2014)

Spacecraft  Purpose
1. Cassini-Huygens Orbiting the Venus and transmitting data to the Earth
2. Messenger Mapping and investigating the Mercury
3. Voyager 1 and 2 Exploring the outer solar system

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (b)

  • Cassini-Huygens was sent to study Saturn and its moons. It was a joint collaboration between NASA and European Space Agency. It was launched in 1997 and entered Saturn’s orbit in 2004. The mission ended in 2017. Hence, pair 1 is not correctly matched.
  • Messenger, a spacecraft by NASA was sent to map and investigate Mercury. It was launched in 2004 and entered Mercury’s orbit in 2011. The mission ended in 2015. Hence, pair 2 is correctly matched.
  • Voyager 1 and 2 were launched by NASA in 1977 to explore the outer solar system. Both the spacecrafts are still operational. Hence, pair 3 is correctly matched.
  • Therefore, option (b) is the correct answer.

Source: IE

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