Thursday, December 15, 2022

Orion Arrives in San Diego on USS Portland | NASA's Artemis I Moon Mission

Orion Arrives in San Diego on USS Portland | NASA's Artemis I Moon Mission

Image Description: "Team members with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems program successfully removed the Artemis I Orion spacecraft from the USS Portland Dec. 14, after the ship arrived at U.S. Naval Base San Diego."

NASA's Artemis I Orion spacecraft is "Back on dry land. Yesterday, NASA's Explorations Ground Systems team offloaded Orion from the USS Portland for initial inspections, ahead of its journey to the Kennedy Space Center for post-flight analysis. We'll remove a few payloads in San Diego and the remainder at Kennedy," reported Jim Free, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development.

Engineers will conduct inspections around the spacecraft’s windows before installing hard covers and deflating the five airbags on the crew module uprighting system in preparation for the final leg of Orion’s journey over land. It will be loaded on a truck and transported back to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for post-flight analysis.  

Before its departure, teams will open Orion’s hatch as part of preparations for the trip to Kennedy and remove the Biology Experiment-1 payload which flew onboard Orion. The experiment involves using plant seeds, fungi, yeast, and algae to study the effects of space radiation before sending humans to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars. Removing the payload prior to Orion’s return to Kennedy allows scientists to begin their analysis before the samples begin to degrade.  

Once it arrives to Kennedy, Orion will be delivered to the Multi-Payload Processing Facility where additional payloads will be taken out, its heat shield and other elements will be removed for analysis, and remaining hazards will be offloaded.

NASA’s Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission was successfully recovered inside the well deck of the United States Navy's USS Portland on Dec. 11, 2022 off the coast of Baja California. After launching atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on Nov. 16, 2022, from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, Orion spent 25.5 days in space before returning to Earth, completing the Artemis I mission.

The Artemis I mission is the first integrated test of NASA’s deep space exploration systems: the Orion spacecraft, the SLS rocket, and Kennedy Space Center's Exploration Ground Systems. 

This will provide the foundation to send humans to the lunar surface, develop a long-term presence on and around the Moon, and pave the way for humanity to set foot on Mars.

Learn more:

Credit: NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC)

Image Date: Dec. 14, 2022

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