NASA’s ‘Mega Moon Rocket’ has completed its maiden flight and is ready for the crew to launch Artemis II TechCrunch
NASA’s preliminary analysis concludes that the massive Space Launch System has passed its first test with vibrant colors, and the Orion rocket and capsule are well-suited to their next mission: Artemis II, will send the crew to lunar orbit.
After numerous delays and huge costs, some worried that SLS (nicknamed “Mega Moon Rocket”) would never really take off. But the November launch went (mostly) without a hitchas well as the 25-day mission due to an unfilled Orion capsule.
While its success is obvious, it’s not an all-or-nothing case. The vast amount of data needed to be analyzed by NASA teams to ensure that Artemis I had not been successful despite the serious problems. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case: While the teams are still working on terabytes of raw data, the agency’s mission statement is good enough to confirm its sequel.
“Based on an assessment conducted immediately after launch, preliminary post-flight data indicates that all SLS systems are in excellent performance and the designs are ready to support manned flight on Artemis. II,” wrote NASA in an article.
Emphasizing this point, SLS Program Manager John Honeycutt is quoted as follows:
The correlation between actual flight performance and predicted performance for the Artemis I is excellent. It takes engineering and art to successfully build and launch a rocket, and analysis of the first flight of an SLS rocket puts NASA and its partners in a prime position to deliver power for missions for Artemis II and beyond.
Main pressure, temperature and other values are all within 2% of predicted. No doubt the team is working to shrink that delta even now.
Artemis II’s crew mission clearly depends entirely on Artemis I’s success, and this is the clearest sign since launch that SLS and Orion are quantitatively good enough. It’s a huge step forward to say, “Yes, we’re moving towards getting astronauts on this,” but of course there’s a lot more work to be done before it happens. The Artemis I timeline doesn’t go exactly as planned, but verifying that the rocket is working as expected could help speed up the next installment in NASA’s grand plan to return to the moon.