So lets take a look at why that is. In april 2021, nasa chose spacex as the sole provider for the artemis missions, human landing system, the contract worth 2.9 billion dollars means that nasa will use spacexs highly anticipated starship system to land humans on the moon. However, implementation of the contract has barely begun because of two delays that share one common factor: blue origin, first blue origin and dynetics, who were spacexs competitors for the hls contract, filed official protests to the government accountability office, which ended up being overturned right after that. A salty blue origin filed a lawsuit against nasa. The standoff is expected to continue until at least the beginning of november 2021.. The delays might suck, but blue origin and jeff bezoss legal bombardment wont be able to change what annoys them the most. The fact that spacex is the backbone of this lunar mission, the starship hls version – is still under development, but multiple reports suggest that the landing spacecraft will not have a heat shield, since the moon has no substantial atmosphere. Spacex and nasa have been working closely in the hls starships development theyre, ensuring that it meets certain performance requirements. It boasts a spacious, cabin and two airlocks for moonwalks, which, thanks to elon, will be a lot easier than theyve ever been, but more on that later, the hls borrows some aspects from spacexs raptor engines and falcon and dragon vehicles. Starship is intended to evolve into a fully reusable launch and landing system designed for travel to the moon, mars and other far off destinations.
As much as bezos would disagree, spacex may be crucial to the artemis program, but it isnt exactly hogging the limelight nasa and its other commercial partners like lockheed martin boeing and northrop gruman also have a lot to bring to the table. For instance, nasas space launch system rocket, the sls is nasas heavy lift rocket designed to bring humans and cargo deep into the solar system. The craft was first announced back in september 2011 under president barack obamas administration. At the time, nasa was targeting flexible destinations, including mars, and an asteroid near earth for future human missions. After overcoming multiple delays and development challenges in late 2020 and early 2021, sls is now scheduled to make its debut flight artemis 1 in december of 2021, when it will launch an orion spacecraft on a loop around the moon, sls will be available in a few configurations With the astronaut launching lunar version anticipated to be massive at 321 feet tall, the rockets being developed in three major phases with different capabilities, mostly in the upper stages, block 1 block 1b and block 2.. The core stage of all versions will be built by boeing, which received an initial 2.8 billion dollar contract for the work in 2014.. The core stage includes four liquid propellant engines and two solid rocket boosters to lift sls into space starship and sls arent. The only spacecraft on the artemis mission lockheed martins orion is also on the roster fun fact: orions development history, long pre dates, project artemis, nasa selected lockheed martin to build the vehicle in 2006 under a contract that was valued at up to 8.
15 billion dollars. At the time, orion was initially designed for the bush administrations constellation program, which was intended to take humans to the moon and mars. The program was cancelled in 2010, but the craft wasnt orion was revived with a modified system design in 2011. With nasa saying the design could be adapted for the exploration of new and more flexible destinations, so back then nasas choice had already been made. Orion was to be kept as the spacecraft of choice for project artemis. Orion has only performed one test flight to date. A high earth orbiting mission called exploration, flight test 1 or eft 1. On december 5th, 2014. development delays to sls have pushed back an expected second flight for the capsule several times since 2017.. According to nasa, the craft is 16.5 feet in diameter and can carry four astronauts like the apollo command module which came before it. Orion will include a crew module and a service module with vital spacecraft systems for oxygen regeneration, power and fuel orions next expected flight artemis. 1 is expected to see orion go around the moon, carrying experiments, cubesats and human test articles to examine the stresses of space flight on future astronauts. Artemis 1 is scheduled for late 2021 and we cant wait to finally see orion in space. Every mission needs a base of operations, and a mission to the moon is no different. One of the first mentions of a deep space gateway orbiting. The moon was in 2017.
, since then, weve learned a whole lot more. The gateway space station is the latest in a long evolution of station concepts for astronauts. The idea for a facility in lunar orbit was incorporated into early artemis program plans as a way station for astronauts bound for the lunar surface in 2020. Gateway was removed from the critical path of the first lunar landing scheduled for 2024, but it still remains as one of nasas planned, successors to the international space station gateway, wont be permanently occupied, but like the iss, it will represent an international partnership. The gateway space station will rely heavily on collaboration, and some of its planned elements include a power and propulsion module built by maxar, a habitation and logistics outpost by northrop gruman. The european system providing refueling infrastructure and communications or esprit built by tails. Alenia, the international habitation module also built by tails alenia and to cap it all off a robotic arm called canadarm3 built by mda early in 2021, nasa announced that spacex will also be involved in the gateway project and would provide a falcon heavy rocket to deliver. The first two segments of the lunar orbit station its worth, noting that the design for gateway is still evolving and nasa may add more elements to it. Some plans for the lunar gateway also include cargo tugs, although, as of now, there are no solid plans to build such vehicles. The aim of gateway cargo tugs is to reduce the cost of missions to the moon by carrying logistics modules with supplies on board between the earth and the moon.
The tugs would operate between earth and the moon for several flights and would require a spaceborne depot for refueling operations. A lunar station above the moon is cool and all, but you already know, a lunar base on the moons surface is where its at nasa definitely does, because in 2020 it revealed plans for its artemis base camp near shackleton crater, as you may expect, the location pick As specific as it was, is by no means random. Back in 2012, scientists investigating the lunar south poles, shackleton crater identified ample supplies of water frozen into the lunar surface around the region. Theoretically, such water can be separated into its hydrogen and oxygen components for rocket fuel or for astronaut air supply. That said, the technology to turn water into fuel is still in early development. One of the cubesats that will fly with nasas sls around the moon will test a water electrofusion system in space. Nasa mentioned that as the proposed artemis base camp evolves and grows, it will require supplies for water, waste disposal, communications, landing vehicles and shielding astronauts from radiation. The base will also include two mobility systems: a lunar terrain, vehicle for astronaut, surface movement and a habitable mobility platform that could support trips away from base for up to 45 days. Artemis, basecamp may also facilitate experiments dealing with the pesky lunar dust in situ resource utilization or a far side radio telescope. Of course, the astronauts will have to be suited up most of the time during the artemis mission, so naturally someone has to design and create the spacesuits youd.
Think nasa was able to do that, but think again because well its complicated. The last time nasa used a spacesuit on the lunar surface was decades ago. In 1972, the current generation of space station suits isnt anything worth writing home about either, partly because it was introduced in 1981 yikes. It also isnt appropriate for conditions on the moon, rightfully seeking an upgrade nasa unveiled. Two spacesuit prototypes in 2019 for artemis, the exploration extravehicular mobility unit x. Emu is a red white and blue suit, designed to be worn during lunar surface expeditions. The second suit is the orion crew survival system, a bright orange pressure suit to be worn by astronauts in the orion capsule when they launch into space and when they return to earth. In august 2021, nasas office of the inspector general cited a then 20 month delay in ex emu development that made a 2024 deadline for using the suits on the moon impossible. The same report says that the x emu spacesuits wont be ready until april 2025 at the earliest. Luckily, for nasa, a very capable individual by the name of elon musk, fired out a tweet and suggested that spacex could step in to help. According to this report, delays in the development of the artemis, moon, spacesuits came about due to underfunding, covet impacts and technical challenges. Elon also acknowledged the fact that there are 27 different companies supplying components for the suits which was pointed out by cnbc space reporter michael sheets.
In july, nasa said that it would embrace commercial partnerships to optimize space suit technology and inspire pioneering in the space industry. That means one thing to us: elons offer for spacex to create the suits could be possible with a spacex vehicle and starship and spacesuits designed by spacex youd, be forgiven to think that this is elons very own mission to the moon. How important do you think spacex is to the artemis program? Let us know all this and more down in the comments section below dont forget to like this video and subscribe to our channel, if you havent, already for all the latest tech stories and news until next time.