Although humans have been propelling satellites and other people into space for more than 50 years now, space travel is no less exciting. Here are some of the upcoming launches you should watch and why they are important.
Artemis 1: 16 November 2022
Artemis 1 may be NASA’s most important mission in the world the least last decade. It’s the first complete test of the Space Launch System, a massive, multi-stage rocket intended to serve the same purpose as the Saturn V from the 1960s – sending humans to the moon. Modified versions can be used to send heavy payloads into space (such as parts for new space stations) or to transport humans to Mars and beyond.
This initial mission is unmanned (there are no people on the ship), but the goal is to launch the empty Orion space capsule on a 280,000-mile journey to the moon and back. If all goes well, Artemis II can take humans on the same journey. The current launch window opens on November 16, 2022 at 1:04 AM ET. Live coverage will be available on the NASA app, the agency’s website, and the NASA YouTube channel.
The launch has already been postponed several times, due to technical and weather issues. The first launch window was set for August 29, 2022, but was canceled due to the discovery of problems with engine cooling. NASA tried again on September 3, but was halted by a liquid hydrogen leak in the core, and the rocket then returned to the Vehicle Assembly Building as Hurricane Ian approached Florida. It’s now back on the dashboard, but there’s still a chance Tropical Storm Nicole could change NASA’s plans again.
Cargo Dragon Launch: November 18, 2022
SpaceX has been transporting cargo to the International Space Station for years, thanks to a contract with NASA, using the Dragon 1 and Dragon 2 spacecraft. The next “Cargo Dragon” mission is scheduled for November 18, 2022.
Although the dragon capsule Can Getting people to the International Space Station – it was the first time in 2020 – there won’t be any people on this mission. The SpaceX CRS-26 mission will be an unmanned mission to resupply the space station with the Cargo Dragon capsule and the Falcon 9 rocket. The payload includes a portable microscope to improve health diagnosis in space, solar arrays for the station, an experiment with tomatoes, and more.
The current launch is scheduled for November 18, and will take place at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX will likely show a live broadcast on its YouTube channel, and the launch may also appear on the NASA app, the agency’s website, and the NASA YouTube channel.
Moon payload for intuitive devices: December 22, 2022
Another part of NASA’s plan for lunar missions is Commercial Lunar Payload Services, or CLPS for short. The program aims for private companies (such as SpaceX) to launch cargoes to the Moon and/or conduct science missions on behalf of NASA.
Intuitive Machines of Houston, a space exploration company based in Houston, Texas, is carrying out the next mission in the CLPS program. It’s a lunar landing with NASA’s four payloads, which will conduct experiments on the lunar surface. One payload is a small data transmission satellite. The experiments will collect data for use on future manned and unmanned lunar missions.
The launch is currently scheduled for December 22, 2022 using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. As SpaceX handles the launch, there will likely be a live broadcast on SpaceX’s YouTube channel, or perhaps a live broadcast on NASA’s YouTube channel.
Boeing Crew Flight Test: April 2023
SpaceX isn’t the only American company trying to get people into space — Boeing has tried, too. The company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft looks a bit like the SpaceX Dragon and Apollo command module, but it’s slightly larger than both. Boeing and NASA have already completed two spaceflights with no one on board, but the next attempt will have a crew.
Boeing’s first flight test (CFT) is scheduled sometime in April 2023, when it was launched with an Atlas V missile. NASA chose Barry Eugene Willmore and Sunita Williams as the crew, both of whom have previously traveled on space shuttle missions, with Michael Fink as backup. If all goes well, the Starliner will fly to the International Space Station, then return to Earth in the same ship a week later.
On its website, NASA said, “CFT astronauts will live and work on the space station for approximately two weeks. After a successful manned flight, NASA will complete certification of the Starliner spacecraft and regular crew rotation mission systems to the space station.”
April 2023 is far away, but the launch will happen likely It is broadcast on the NASA app, the agency’s website, and the NASA YouTube channel.
CAPSTONE: Entering orbit on November 13, 2022
Cislunar Autonomous GPS Technology Operations and Navigation Experience, or CAPSTONE for short, is a small satellite the size of a microwave oven. The rocket launched again on July 4, 2022, so there’s no exciting upcoming live stream of this event – that’s more than an honorary mention, because the satellite hasn’t reached its target yet.
CAPSTONE is taking an unusual path to the Moon that NASA calls Ballistic Lunar Transfer, or BLT for short—unrelated to the sandwich, likely. “With the help of the Sun’s gravity, the spacecraft will reach a distance of 958,000 miles from Earth – more than three times the distance between Earth and Moon – before being pulled toward the Earth-Moon system,” NASA said in a blog.
CAPSTONE is unique in that it will be the first spacecraft to enter a special elongated orbit around the Moon. This is the same orbit that NASA hopes to use for the proposed Gateway space station around the Moon, making CAPSTONE an important educational opportunity. In this particular orbit, it requires less fuel to maintain the orbit, which is important when the nearest gas station is hundreds of thousands of miles away.
Once in lunar orbit, CAPSTONE’s mission will be to test a technology called the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System (CAPS), which is a bit like Google Maps for space travel. In another blog post, NASA said, “CAPS will demonstrate innovative spacecraft-to-spacecraft navigation solutions that will allow future spacecraft to determine their location without having to rely exclusively on tracking from the ground.” This technology involves direct communication with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting the Moon since 2009.
Source: NASA launch schedule
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