Robotic missions to Mars and advances in space tourism have dominated 2021’s space activities. But in 2022, the moon will likely be more prominent as companies and governments launch many spacecraft to the moon.
Most of those missions revolve around Artemis, NASA’s multibillion-dollar effort to return astronauts to the moon by the end of the decade and perform routine science missions on its surface. to prepare for further trips to Mars (a more ambitious endeavor most likely won’t happen in this case decades). But before the astronauts can take footage of the moon, a series of rocket tests and unmanned science missions will need to be completed.
2022 is the year for the first steps towards the moon. Two new rockets in NASA’s lunar plan will launch into space for the first time, each more powerful than the Saturn 5 rocket from the Apollo program. And other countries are also expected to join the march to the moon.
Launch of NASA’s giant lunar rocket
After years of development delays, NASA’s Space Launch System, or SLS, could make its first voyage into space – without any humans – as early as March 2022. .
The mission, called Artemis 1, will mark the first in a series of flights in NASA’s Artemis program by SLS, NASA’s central rocket system to bring lunar astronauts out of the Earth. soil. For Artemis 1, the SLS will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to send a capsule called Orion around the moon and back, orbiting maneuvers that will be performed by Artemis 2, the next mission planned ants carry astronauts in 2024. The third mission, Artemis 3, will lead to a moon landing.
Like any major space mission, Artemis 1 has been delayed several times. It was originally scheduled for 2020, then pushed to various times throughout 2021 because of development challenges and setbacks caused by the pandemic. NASA blamed the most recent delay to March 2022 on the need to investigate and replace a faulty internal computer that controls one of the rocket’s four main engines.
SpaceX’s next spaceship test
At the heart of NASA’s effort to return humans to the moon is SpaceX’s Starship, which will be used as a human lunar lander sometime in 2025. This will be an astronaut mission. the agency’s first to the lunar surface since 1972. Designed as a fully reusable rocket system, Starship is also central to Elon Musk’s ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars and will be critical to SpaceX’s revenue-generating satellite launch business.
But first, Starship must reach orbit. That test flight, which also has no people on board, could happen around mid-2022.
Musk, the chief executive of SpaceX, had hoped to launch Starship into orbit in 2021. But a lengthy assessment by the Federal Aviation Administration into the environmental impact of SpaceX’s launch pad in Texas and delays Development delays with the company’s new Raptor engine delayed the test flight. The FAA’s review process is expected to conclude at the end of February and determine whether further environmental assessments are needed, or whether SpaceX can continue to launch Starship.
A successful orbital test would be an important step in NASA’s lunar program. Astronauts launching to the top of the Space Launch System inside the Orion capsule will arrive at the rendezvous point and transfer to Starship on the moon for the rest of the way down to the lunar surface. The Starship spacecraft will then take off from the moon, then transfer the astronauts back to Orion to make the journey back to Earth.
Moon Robot sponsored by NASA
Three NASA program lunar landers are expected to hit the moon by 2022 – if development goes as planned.
Intuitive Machines, a company based in Houston, and Astrobotic, based in Pittsburgh, both aim to send small lunar landers carrying multiple scientific payloads to the moon by the end of 2022. Their suite was developed under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program – part of the agency’s effort to rely on private companies to send cargo and research tools into space with hope to stimulate the commercial market.
Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander, a six-legged cylindrical robot, is expected to launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in early 2022, carrying a dozen payloads to the lunar surface. One of the instruments on board will measure the amount of lunar dust that rises during Nova-C’s landing, a test that could help engineers prevent messy moon landings in the future. The lander will also deploy a small probe built by Spacebit, a British company. In the fourth quarter of 2022, the company may also send a second mission to the lunar surface.
Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander is a boxy, four-legged lander with onboard propulsion that can maneuver itself down the basalt plain on the sunny side of the northeastern quadrant of the moon carrying 14 masses. research download. The company says Peregrine will be ready to launch on United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan rocket in mid-2022.
But whether it launches on time or not depends on when the rocket is ready to fly. The launch of the Vulcan was organized by the supplier of the engines for the rocket, Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space company. Its new BE-4 engine has yet to be delivered.
Complicated lunar orbit test
Rocket Lab, the company that makes rockets for small launches, is ready to send in March 2022 a microwave-sized satellite, or CubeSat, to NASA called CAPSTONE from the company’s launch site in New Zealand.
The satellite will study the orbit around the moon that a future space station called Gateway, which is being developed by NASA and other space agencies, will reside for some time in the decade. next century.
CAPSTONE will also test new navigation technology designed to calculate the spacecraft’s position relative to other spacecraft. Traditionally, satellites used onboard cameras to determine their positions in relation to star formation or the apparent position of the sun. Instead, CAPSTONE will attempt to gather its position in space by communicating with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, an imaging satellite launched in 2009.
Korea’s first photo
The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, a box-shaped satellite, will be South Korea’s first journey to the moon as the country aims to consolidate its technical know-how to carry out missions in space.
Led by Seoul’s space agency, Korea Aerospace Research Institute, the six-main instrument-carrying spacecraft is scheduled to launch in August 2022 aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and reach the fund. orbiting the Moon in December. It will spend a year surveying the moon’s geology and remotely examining the chemical composition of lunar dust.
The satellite will also carry the Lunar Terrain Imager, which will survey potential landing sites for South Korea’s next robotic lunar lander.
Even more global visitors
Lunar robots from other countries will also try to find their way to the moon in 2022.
Luna-25 lander, possibly Released in July 2022, will mark Russia’s first moon landing since 1976, when the Soviet-era Luna-24 lander collected lunar samples to return to Earth. The lander will study lunar soil and test technologies for future Russian moon landings.
A Japanese space company, ispace, plans to send its Mission 1 lander to the moon at some point. before the end of 2022. If the landing is successful, it will deploy a pair of rovers. One, a small four-wheeled robot named Rashid, built by the United Arab Emirates. Another smaller robotic explorer built by Japan’s space agency is the size and shape of a basketball. It can transform into a rover after deployment, bisecting itself, and using its halves as wheels to get around and study the dirt on the moon.
India has been planning to send the Chandrayaan-3 lander and submersible to the moon in the third quarter of 2022, attempting a third moon mission after wrapping the lander from Chandrayaan-2’s mission. India crashed in 2019. But the country’s space agency revised schedule in January, postponing the mission to mid-2023.
https://www.nytimes.com/article/moon-missions-nasa-2022.html What will launch to the Moon in 2022