NASA is almost ready to begin the Artemis mission, a multi-stage mission aimed at sending astronauts to the Moon and beyond. When the dealer is approaching the launch date for Artemis I – an unmanned flight around the Moon – it also prepares astronauts to spend time on the surface of the Moon.
Preparing for the Moon is as intense as you’d expect: NASA’s team of 42 astronauts and 10 astronaut candidates are undergoing rigorous training related to military helicopter landings, research study rocky terrain in areas like Iceland, spend long periods at the bottom of a group, and train in VR simulations.
NASA has yet to decide which astronauts will go to the Moon. However, the agency said Friday it is aiming to launch the Artemis II mission by 2024 – that mission will send astronauts for test flights to the moon, making it the first mission crew first beyond low Earth orbit since 1972. Then, in 2025, NASA should launch the Artemis III mission, bringing the first woman and first person of color to the surface. Moon.
The Artemis program doesn’t end there, NASA’s chief astronaut Reid Wiseman said Friday. The program was then designed to support “the first humans to track down to Mars and set our foot on and build science labs and inhabit other planets.
“For me, it was just the most amazingly inspiring moment we’ve had at NASA,” Wiseman added.
In a Friday press conference, Wiseman outlined elements of the astronauts’ training. First, they spent time with the Army, practicing how to land a helicopter in the snow.
“To land on the moon, to land on Mars, we would go down quite a bit vertically,” he explained. “Whether it is SpaceX Option Abuilding the human lander to the Moon that we will fly, or other contractors that are online for the next missions, we will almost certainly go down vertically. “
As for landing in the snow, he said the aim was to answer, “What would it be like to fly out, like if you were going to be on the surface of Mars or on the surface of the moon? And just a few seconds.” hours on a helicopter, it’s amazing how much you learn, how fast you learn.”
Meanwhile, NASA did a training course in Europe a few months ago called Pangea, which helped them prepare to study lunar geology. The agency, Wiseman said, must look at how the lunar rock samples are taken, retained and cataloged for scientists on Earth.
“It’s a completely different way of thinking in a geological time frame,” he said. The agency also trains a lot in Iceland, he said, calling it “a very good analog to the surface of the Moon.”
Next, NASA astronauts are using their virtual reality labs to prepare to land on the Moon’s South Pole.
“If you’ve ever looked at the Moon at night, Antarctica has a very strange angle of the sun – very strange light shining on it,” Wiseman said. “There are regions that are permanently shaded, and we’ve developed in virtual reality what it really looks like, with the exact angle of the sun that we’re going to land. And that’s weird.”
Wiseman continued, “Your bottom half could be in absolute darkness, and your top half could be in bright sunlight. The way the shadow was cast across the surface of the Moon, it just changed everything. literally. So in this virtual reality world, we can go in there in 10 minutes and you can answer 1,000 questions.”
For another simulated experience, NASA is currently equipping crew trainer Orion at Johnson Space Center. It will be ready later this year, preparing the crew to fly aboard the Orion spacecraft.
Just 10 minutes north of Johnson Space Center, astronauts are training at NASA’s neutral buoyancy lab – a huge pool where astronauts have been training for spacewalks on the International Space Station for two decades.
“We’re taking part of that pool now and looking at what it would look like on the Moon, spending six hours in a Moon-class spacesuit studying the bottom of the pool,” Wiseman said.
Of course, NASA also has astronauts on the ISS – there are now four – also preparing them for the journey to the Moon.
Wiseman said the agency hopes to choose which astronauts will fly on Artemis II later this year. For all of Artemis’ missions, the agency will primarily look at technical expertise, he said – “the ability to drill down into any situation, any vehicle’s technical needs, to understand when Things are not going well and understand when they are.”
In addition, he said, NASA is looking for team players who can work well together and flight executives. Wiseman also stressed the importance of sending a diverse crew to the Moon, noting that the upcoming class of astronauts represents “all walks of life.”
“Our job at NASA is to do the hard things, do the right things, and energize our facility, which is our youth,” he said. “And right now our country is a diverse and incredibly rich country… We want every kid in America to look at our posters and say, ‘Oh, I see myself in there. …I might do it someday.”