There is a Heat Shield Problem, NASA Calls Artemis 1 Orion Still Eligible to Support Manned Missions to the Moon
NASA revealed that the Orion spacecraft on the Artemis 1 mission was fit to support manned missions to the Moon. Photos/NASA/Space
FLORIDA – NASA has revealed that the Orion spacecraft on the Artemis 1 mission is fit to support manned missions to the Moon. Although NASA acknowledged there was a heat shield issue on Orion after a 25-day unmanned mission around the Moon.
The Orion spacecraft was launched into lunar orbit on November 16, 2022 aboard a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, the most powerful rocket NASA has ever used. After 25 days in lunar orbit, the Orion spacecraft returned to Earth, although evaluations found it suffered an unexpected loss of its heat-shielding material.
John Honeycutt, NASA’s SLS Program Manager, during a teleconference on Tuesday March 7, 2023 revealed NASA was surprised by the performance of the rocket and spacecraft on the first mission for SLS and the second for Orion. “Post-flight data analysis continues to show SLS is ready to support manned Artemis missions,” he was quoted as saying by SINDOnews from the Space page, Thursday (9/3/2023).
Indeed, all data shows good performance, but that does not mean that every aspect of the mission is running perfectly. One of them, said John Honeycutt, Orion’s heat shield did not work as expected.
The Orion spacecraft lost more heat-shielding material than NASA expected. However, NASA is confident that everything will be ready for the manned Artemis 2 flight around the moon, which is planned for next year.
“We continue to see great performance from SLS. All did an outstanding job and met all expectations and even exceeded expectations,” added Honeycutt.
Howard Hu, NASA’s Orion Program Manager, praised the performance of the crew module during flight tests. He noted that NASA was able to achieve the overall 161 test objectives planned for the mission.
It even added 21 additional in-flight tests based on spacecraft performance. “We achieved our ultimate goal, which was to return the crew module to Earth safely,” he said.
It is known that the speed of the Orion spacecraft in outer space is about 24,500 miles per hour (39,428 km per hour) until it lands at about 16 miles per hour (25.7 km per hour). Orion landed within 2.4 miles (3.8 km) of the set target.
“Our requirement is 6.2 miles (9.9 km). So, it’s a very good performance. We demonstrated that we can return from the moon,” Hu said.