Flight to the moon – shut up, the second!
Today, Saturday (September 3rd) at 8:17 p.m. our time, NASA’s SLS rocket is supposed to finally take the Orion spacecraft to the moon. The first launch attempt five days ago had failed because there had been a whole series of technical problems – primarily one engine could not be adequately cooled. Yesterday, Nasa engineers gave their “go” for the second launch attempt.
BILD explains the “Mission Artemis” and reports on the start.
► The starting place: NASA’s new SLS giant rocket (cost: four billion euros) takes off from a place steeped in history – the launch site of the earlier Apollo missions. In 1972, Eugene Cernan (Apollo 17) was the last person to walk on the moon’s surface.
► The order: NASA is sending the Orion spacecraft to our moon as a test without astronauts. Orion is said to orbit the moon several times, then return to Earth. This first mission will last around six weeks.
► The technique: The SLS rocket is currently the most powerful rocket in the world. It was built by the US aircraft manufacturer Boeing. It accelerates to almost 40,000 kilometers per hour in just a few minutes and has the equivalent of around 50 million hp. A real space monster!
The Europeans also have a hand in the Orion spacecraft: the propulsion module was built by Airbus in Bremen on behalf of the European Space Agency Esa.
This is how it goes
► the next steps ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher explains in BILD: “If this test flight works, there will be a first manned circumnavigation flight the following year, with Americans on board. From 2025, two NASA astronauts are expected to set foot on the moon again. A woman and a non-white astronaut. From 2025 to 2030 we Europeans will be there.”
►The astronauts: The Europeans have already reserved a total of four tickets to the moon. So there is a great chance that a German will fly to the moon for the first time. It has not yet been decided whether it will be Alexander Gerst or Matthias Maurer. Both have already expressed great interest. Matthias Maurer (52) to BILD: “I’m definitely ready for a moon mission. Age does not matter. It is important to be fit. And I’m fit.”
It is also not yet certain who the two US astronauts will be who will set foot on the moon for the first time.
This lunar mission is just the beginning
There are three Artemis missions that build on each other and will bring humans back to the moon for the first time since 1972 (2025 at the earliest).
In the long term, Nasa and Esa want to build the “Lunar Gateway Station” together, a space station that will serve research and at the same time be a transfer station to the moon. Astronauts then fly with Orion to the space station and from there have a lander take them down to the moon.
A permanent moon village is also planned. There, for example, oxygen could be filtered out of moon dust for rocket propulsion and hydrogen could be extracted from moon ice.
You need both in order to be able to fly on from the moon to Mars later.