Artemis II Orion Crew and Service Modules Joined Together

Mating of the crew and service modules for the Artemis II Orion spacecraft was recently completed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Intergration of the crew and service modules for the Artemis II Orion spacecraft was recently completed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA

On Oct. 19, the Orion crew and service modules for the Artemis II mission were joined together inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

After successfully completing hardware installations and testing over the past several months, engineers connected the two major components of Orion that will fly NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Koch, along with CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen on a mission around the Moon and bring them home safely.

Now that the crew and service modules are integrated, the team will power up the combined crew and service module for the first time. After power on tests are complete, Orion will begin altitude chamber testing, which will put the spacecraft through conditions as close as possible to the environment it will experience in the vacuum of deep space.

All Engines Added to NASA’s Artemis II Moon Rocket Core Stage

Engineers and technicians from NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and Boeing at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans have installed all four RS-25 engines to the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket that will help power the first crewed Artemis mission to the Moon. The yellow core stage is seen in a horizontal position in the final assembly area at Michoud. The engines are arranged at the bottom of the rocket stage in a square pattern, like legs on a table.
Engineers and technicians from NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and Boeing at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans have installed all four RS-25 engines to the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket that will help power the first crewed Artemis mission to the Moon. The yellow core stage is seen in a horizontal position in the final assembly area at Michoud. The engines are arranged at the bottom of the rocket stage in a square pattern, like legs on a table. Photo Credit: NASA/Eric Bordelon

Teams at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans have structurally joined all four RS-25 engines onto the core stage for NASA’s Artemis II Moon rocket. The flight test is the agency’s first crewed mission under Artemis.

Technicians added the first engine to NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket core stage Sept. 11. Teams installed the second engine onto the stage Sept. 15 with the third and fourth engines Sept. 19 and Sept. 20. Technicians with NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3Harris Technologies company and the RS-25 engines lead contractor, along with Boeing, the core stage lead contractor, now will focus efforts on the complex task of fully securing the engines to the stage and integrating the propulsion and electrical systems within the structure.

The SLS core stage, at 212 feet, is the backbone of the Moon rocket. Its two huge propellant tanks provide more than 733,000 gallons of super-chilled liquid propellant to the four RS-25 engines, while the stage’s flight computers, avionics, and electrical systems act as the “brains” of the rocket. During Artemis II, the RS-25 engines will together provide more than 2 million pounds of thrust for eight minutes of flight, helping to send the Artemis II crew beyond low-Earth orbit to venture around the Moon.

NASA is working to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon under Artemis. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with Orion and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, and commercial human landing systems. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single mission.

For more on NASA SLS visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/sls

Artemis II Astronauts Successfully Conduct Launch Day Demonstration   

Artemis II astronauts, from left, NASA astronaut Victor Glover (left), CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen, NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Reid Wiseman stand on the crew access arm of the mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B as part of an integrated ground systems test at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, Sept. 20. The test ensures the ground systems team is ready to support the crew timeline on launch day. Photo Credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

The Artemis II crew and teams with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program successfully completed the first in a series of integrated ground system tests at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for their mission around the Moon.  

On Wednesday, NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Koch, along with CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen, practiced the procedures they will undergo on launch day to prepare for their ride to space. 

The crew awoke at their crew quarters inside Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkouts building before putting on test versions of the Orion crew survival system spacesuits they will wear on launch day. They then departed in NASA’s new Artemis crew transportation fleet to take them to Launch Pad 39B, traversing the nine-mile journey to the pad. Wiseman and Glover headed over in the first electric vehicle as Koch and Hansen followed them in the second.  

Upon arrival at the pad, the crew headed onto the mobile launcher and proceeded up the tower to the white room inside the crew access arm. From this area, the astronauts will have access to enter and exit the Orion spacecraft – only for this test, there was no Orion or SLS (Space Launch System) rocket. 

“When we walked out that crew access arm, I just had images of all those Apollo launches and shuttle launches that I saw as a kid and it was unreal,” Glover said. “I actually had to stop and just stay in the moment to really let it all sink in.” 

Successful completion of this test ensures both the crew and the ground systems teams at Kennedy are prepared and understand the timeline of their events for launch day.  

Credits: NASA

First RS-25 Engine Installed to NASA’s Artemis II Moon Rocket

Engineers and technicians from Aerojet Rocketdyne and Boeing at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans have installed the first of four RS-25 engines to the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket that will help power the first crewed Artemis mission to the Moon. The yellow core stage is seen in a horizontal position in the final assembly area at Michoud. One RS-25 engine, engine number E2059, has been installed in the top left corner at the base of the 212-foot-tall core stage.
Engineers and technicians from Aerojet Rocketdyne and Boeing at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans have installed the first of four RS-25 engines to the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket that will help power the first crewed Artemis mission to the Moon. The yellow core stage is seen in a horizontal position in the final assembly area at Michoud. One RS-25 engine, engine number E2059, has been installed in the top left corner at the base of the 212-foot-tall core stage. Photo credit: NASA

Technicians at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans have installed the first of four RS-25 engines on the core stage of the agency’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket that will help power NASA’s first crewed Artemis mission to the Moon. During Artemis II, NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Koch, and CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen will launch on SLS and journey around the Moon inside the Orion spacecraft during an approximately 10-day mission in preparation for future lunar missions.

The Sept. 11 engine installation follows the joining of all five major structures that make up the SLS core stage earlier this spring. NASA, lead RS-25 engines contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3 Harris Technologies company, and Boeing, the core stage lead contractor, will continue integrating the remaining three engines into the stage and installing the propulsion and electrical systems within the structure.

All four RS-25 engines are located at the base of the core stage within the engine section, which protects the engines from the extreme temperatures during launch and has an aerodynamic boat tail fairing to channel airflow. During launch and flight, the four engines will fire nonstop for over eight minutes, consuming propellant from the core stage’s two massive propellant tanks at a rate of 1,500 gallons (5,678 liters) per second.

Each SLS engine has a different serial number. The serial number for the engine installed Sept. 11 in position two on the core stage is E2059. It along with the engine in position one, E2047, previously flew on space shuttle flights. E2047 is the most veteran engine of the entire set flying on Artemis II with 15 shuttle flights, including STS-98, which delivered the Destiny Laboratory Module to the International Space Station in 2001. The engines installed in positions three and four (E2062 and E2063) are new engines that include previously flown hardware.

NASA is working to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon under Artemis. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with Orion and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, and commercial human landing systems. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single mission.

For more on NASA SLS visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/sls

Mobile Launcher Arrives at Launch Pad 39B for Artemis ll Preps

The top part of mobile launcher 1, carried by the crawler-transporter 2, rolls out from its park site location to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 16, 2023.
The mobile launcher, carried by the crawler-transporter 2, rolls out from its park site location to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 16, 2023. While at the pad, it will undergo testing for the agency’s Artemis II mission. Under Artemis, the mobile launcher will transport NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to pad 39B for liftoff.  Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

After an approximately four-mile journey over the course of two days, mobile launcher 1 arrived on Aug. 17 at Launch Pad 39B from its park site location at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will remain at the pad for several months as teams with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program prepare for Artemis ll, the first crewed mission under Artemis.

Teams will conduct a variety of tests and continue ground systems upgrades on both structures. These preparations include testing the pad’s new 1.4-million-gallon liquid hydrogen sphere and emergency egress system.

After testing at the pad is complete, the mobile launcher will travel to the Vehicle Assembly Building in preparation for rocket stacking operations ahead of launching Artemis ll.

Mobile Launcher Rolls to Launch Pad for Artemis ll Testing

Under bright blue skies, the mobile launcher 1 is seen behind the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 16, 2023 as it gets ready to roll to Launch Pad 39B.
Mobile launcher 1 is on its way to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to prepare for Artemis ll, the first crewed mission on the agency’s path to establishing a long-term presence at the Moon under Artemis.
Photo credit: NASA/Chad Siwik

Mobile launcher 1 is on its way to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to prepare for Artemis ll, the first crewed mission on the agency’s path to establishing a long-term presence at the Moon under Artemis. The ground structure began its trek from the west park site at approximately 8:27 a.m. EDT on Aug.16 atop the crawler-transporter 2. It will stop at the gate of pad 39B and resume its journey on Aug. 17.

At 380 feet tall above the ground, the mobile launcher is used to assemble, process, and launch NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket and Orion spacecraft. It contains all of the connection lines – known as umbilicals – and ground support equipment that will provide the rocket and spacecraft with the power, communications, fuel and coolant necessary for launch.

Once the mobile launcher is at the launch pad, teams with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program will conduct a series of tests and continue ground systems upgrades for both the mobile launcher 1 and the launch pad. These preparations will range from a launch day demonstration for the crew, closeout crew, and the pad rescue team to rehearse operations to testing the emergency egress system and the new liquid hydrogen sphere.

Artemis II Orion Crew Module Acoustic Testing Complete

Artemis II crew members, shown inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, check out their Orion crew module on Aug. 8, 2023. From left are: Victor Glover, pilot; Reid Wiseman, commander; Christina Hammock Koch, mission specialist; and Jeremy Hansen, mission specialist. The crew module is undergoing acoustic testing ahead of integration with the European Service Module. Artemis II is the first crewed mission on NASA’s path to establishing a long-term lunar presence for science and exploration under Artemis.
Artemis II crew members, shown inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, check out their Orion crew module on Aug. 8, 2023. From left are: Victor Glover, pilot; Reid Wiseman, commander; Christina Hammock Koch, mission specialist; and Jeremy Hansen, mission specialist. The crew module is undergoing acoustic testing ahead of integration with the European Service Module. Artemis II is the first crewed mission on NASA’s path to establishing a long-term lunar presence for science and exploration under Artemis. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

On Aug. 13, engineers and technicians inside the high bay of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida successfully completed a series of acoustic tests to ensure the Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis II mission can withstand the speed and vibration it will experience during launch and throughout the 10-day mission around the Moon, the first Artemis mission with astronauts.

During the testing, engineers surrounded the crew module with large stacks of speakers, and attached microphones, accelerometers, and other equipment to measure the effects of different acoustic levels. Engineers and technicians will now analyze the data collected during the tests.

Prior to testing, the four Artemis II astronauts visited the high bay and viewed their ride to the Moon. With this test complete, technicians at Kennedy are on track to integrate Orion’s crew and service modules this fall.

Artemis II Crew Visits Naval Base San Diego for Recovery Training

Artemis II astronauts inside the Vehicle Advanced Demonstrator for Emergency Recovery (VADR) during a tour of Naval Base San Diego.
From left (front to back), NASA astronauts Victor Glover, Christina Hammock Koch, and Reid Wiseman, along with Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen, pose inside the Vehicle Advanced Demonstrator for Emergency Recovery (VADR) during a tour of Naval Base San Diego on July 19, 2023. VADR is a replica of the Orion crew module that will carry the astronauts around the Moon on Artemis II. Photo credit: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Samoluk

The Artemis II crew – NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Hammock Koch, and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen – visited Naval Base San Diego on July 19 ahead of the first Artemis II recovery test in the Pacific Ocean, Underway Recovery Test-10. The test will build on the success of Artemis I recovery and ensure NASA and the Department of Defense personnel can safely recover astronauts and their Orion spacecraft after their trip around the Moon on the first crewed Artemis mission.

The crew met with recovery team members from NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program and the Department of Defense to learn more about the recovery process for their mission, which includes being extracted from the spacecraft after splashing down in the Pacific Ocean and being lifted via helicopter to the recovery ship where they will undergo routine medical checks before returning to shore.

The visit included a walkdown of the ground equipment and facilities the team uses to practice recovery procedures along with a walkthrough of the recovery ship. The crew will participate in full recovery testing at sea next year.

Orion Heat Shield Installed for NASA’s Artemis II Mission

The heat shield for the Artemis II Orion spacecraft
Installation of the heat shield for the Artemis II Orion spacecraft was recently completed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

On June 25, 2023, teams completed installation of the heat shield for the Artemis II Orion spacecraft inside the high bay of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The 16.5-foot-wide heat shield is one of the most important systems on the Orion spacecraft ensuring a safe return of the astronauts on board. As the spacecraft returns to Earth following its mission around the Moon, it will be traveling at speeds of about 25,000 mph and experience outside temperatures of nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Inside the spacecraft, however, astronauts will experience a much more comfortable temperature in the mid-70s thanks to Orion’s thermal protection system.

Up next, the spacecraft will be outfitted with some of its external panels ahead of acoustic testing later this summer. These tests will validate the crew module can withstand the vibrations it will experience throughout the Artemis II mission, during launch, flight, and landing.

Once acoustic testing is complete, technicians will attach the crew module to Orion’s service module, marking a major milestone for the Artemis II mission, the first mission with astronauts under Artemis that will test and check out all of Orion’s systems needed for future crewed missions.