California’s connection to NASA’s Artemis 1 mission to the moon

After technical problems and delays caused by two different hurricanes, NASA’s Artemis 1 mission to the Moon successfully launched at 10:47 p.m. PST on Tuesday. Planning for the mission, which aims to improve scientists’ understanding of the impacts of extended deep space travel on humans, began in 2010. A new type of launch vehicle, known as a Space Launch System, was front and center of takeoff. At the top was the also new Orion space capsule, designed to eventually transport astronauts back to the moon and beyond. Although Artemis 1 is an unmanned mission, scientists will use this nearly month-long journey to lunar orbit and back as an opportunity to collect data on deep space travel and daily conditions on the moon’s surface. NASA’s chief exploration scientist Jacob Bleacher said this makes Artemis 1 a gateway to new destinations. “Artemis is really turning the page on a new chapter of space exploration. We’re basically writing the blueprint now for how to explore the solar system,” he said. Bleach. “We learned to live in space with the International Space Station. And now we have to learn to go and live in deep space.” The SLS rocket is the most powerful the US has ever built. Collaboration to get it to the launch pad. NASA refers to the SLS as “America’s Rocket,” a nod to the fact that companies from each of the 50 states contributed in some way to the construction. California had many collaborators, including the Sacramento-based company Aerojet Rocketdyne, which builds propulsion systems for air and space travel. Doug Bradley is the deputy program manager for the RS-25 engine at Aerojet Rocketdyne. Bradley says the RS-25 engines, which have also been used in the space shuttle programs, were just the first of many Aerojet Rocketdyne engines to show up Tuesday night. “From the top to the bottom of the rocket, we have a role.” Bradley said. That includes four RS-25 engines, which powered the SLS rocket for exactly eight minutes once the boosters were released. Within that time frame, a powerful waste motor was ejected into the rocket’s abort system. Wednesday night, all that remains to be tracked for the mission is the Orion space capsule, sailing toward the moon guided by Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL-10 engines. According to NASA, Orion should reach its lunar orbital position sometime on Tuesday, November 22. Orion will orbit the moon for several weeks, collecting important data as it orbits. December, Aerojet Rocketdyne engines will reappear. “Our company even has little helium tanks that inflate the little floats on the capsule to keep it upright,” Bradley said with a smile. When he said that they have a “top to bottom” role, he meant it. Bradley says that even though he is not from Sacramento, he is honored to represent the area on such a big stage. “I’m proud…everyone is proud of our role in Artemis,” he said. Plans for the Artemis 2 mission, which will involve astronauts, are underway with a launch tentatively expected sometime in 2024.

After technical problems and delays caused by two different hurricanes, NASA’s Artemis 1 mission to the Moon successfully launched at 10:47 p.m. PST on Tuesday.

Planning for the mission, which aims to increase scientists’ understanding of the impacts of extended deep space travel on humans, began in 2010.

A new type of launch vehicle, known as the Space Launch System, was front and center for liftoff. At the top was the also new Orion space capsule, designed to eventually transport astronauts back to the moon and beyond.

Although Artemis 1 is an unmanned mission, scientists will use this nearly month-long journey to lunar orbit and back as an opportunity to collect data on deep space travel and daily conditions on the moon’s surface.

NASA’s chief exploration scientist Jacob Bleacher said this makes Artemis 1 a gateway to new destinations.

“Artemis is really turning the page on a new chapter of space exploration. Basically we are now writing the blueprint for how we explore the solar system,” Bleacher said. “We learned to live in space with the International Space Station. And now we have to learn to go and live in deep space.”

The SLS rocket is the most powerful the US has ever built and it took a great deal of collaboration to get it to the launch pad. NASA refers to SLS as “America’s Rocket,” a nod to the fact that each of the 50 states contributed to the construction somehow.

California had many collaborators, including the Sacramento-based company Aerojet Rocketdyne, which builds propulsion systems for air and space travel.

Doug Bradley is the deputy program manager for the RS-25 engine at Aerojet Rocketdyne. Bradley says the RS-25 engines, which have also been used in the space shuttle programs, were just the first of many Aerojet Rocketdyne engines to show up Tuesday night.

“From the top to the bottom of the rocket, we have a role,” Bradley said.

That includes four RS-25 engines, which powered the SLS rocket for exactly eight minutes once the boosters were released. Within that time frame, a powerful launch motor was ejected into the rocket’s abort system.

“Those were designed and built in Sacramento, so it’s a really cool legacy there,” Bradley said.

WATCH: Video shows how the launch of Artemis 1 seemed to turn night into day

As of Wednesday night, all that remains for the mission to track is the Orion space capsule, which sails to the moon guided by Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL-10 engines. According to NASA, Orion should reach its lunar orbital position sometime on Tuesday, November 22.

Orion will orbit the moon for several weeks, collecting important data as it orbits.

When it comes time for re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere and an ocean landing in December, Aerojet Rocketdyne engines will make an appearance again.

“Our company even has little helium tanks that inflate the little floats on the capsule to keep it upright,” Bradley said with a smile.

When he said they have a “top to bottom” role, he meant it.

Bradley says that even though he’s not from Sacramento, he’s honored to represent the area on such a big stage.

“I’m proud…everyone is proud of our role in Artemis,” he said.

Plans for the Artemis 2 mission, which will involve astronauts, are underway with a launch tentatively expected sometime in 2024.

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