The four astronauts tasked with flying past the far side of the moon on NASA’s Artemis II mission took their seats in a drab classroom at Houston’s Johnson Space Center last month. It was one of a series of notable moments for the crew of four since NASA announced the names of the astronauts who will be the first humans to fly around the moon since 1972.
There was the fanfare of the crew’s unveiling to the public in April and a performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. There will of course be great anticipation as the astronauts approach their launch date, currently slated for late 2024 or 2025.
But many of the crew’s days over the next 18 months will be spent in classrooms, on airplanes or in simulators, with instructors disseminating knowledge they deem critical to the success of the Artemis II mission. In the simulator, the training team throws glitches and anomalies at the astronauts to test their ability to fix a glitch that — if it happened in space — could shorten the mission or, in the worst case, kill them. kill.
“What knowledge do we need to give them to do those things? What skills should we teach them?” said Jacki Mahaffey, NASA’s lead training officer for the Artemis II mission. “In general, our goal is to have a little bit in the classroom, but the more we can get the crew for the displays in the vehicle models and really be immersed in that environment, the sooner the better.
Commander Reid Wiseman and his crewmates — pilot Victor Glover, mission specialist Christina Koch and Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen — were named to the Artemis II crew on April 3. to taking a PR tour, giving interviews, visiting NASA centers around the country, visiting Capitol Hill and meeting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Mahaffey said they also got a pre-training pep talk from Charlie Duke, who walked on the moon during the Apollo 16 mission in April 1972. NASA hasn’t trained a crew to fly to the moon since Apollo 17 in late 1972. time astronauts walked on the lunar surface.
Duke, now 87, told Ars he was excited to meet the Artemis II crew and other members of NASA’s astronaut corps.
“It’s behind schedule, but man, they’re on,” Duke said. “They have a big adventure ahead of them. So I wish them the best, with their vehicles and the training and everything.”
Training for the moon
The Artemis II crew marked their first official day of training on June 21. Like the beginning of many college courses, it started with a preview of the syllabus. Then, in the afternoon, the astronauts had a lesson on the mechanics of the moon’s orbit, according to Mahaffey.
Most of the crew’s classes in June and July focused on “fundamentals” to give the astronauts a sense of the mission’s flight plan, the Orion spacecraft, and the Space Launch System rocket that will launch them into orbit. propel. “It’s just a high-level overview of what all these things are, a general introduction and orientation to what everything looks like, the basic ways to interact with the displays and some of the other practical parts of the spacecraft,” Mahaffey said. .
The Artemis II mission will last about 10 days, starting with a liftoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which will launch their Orion capsule into a near-day high-altitude orbit for critical checks of life support. the ship’s systems and a test of the spacecraft’s ability to approach another object in space. The life support system was not part of last year’s unpiloted Artemis I test flight of the SLS Moon rocket and Orion spacecraft, and future Artemis missions will rely on an encounter between Orion and a lunar landing craft in deep space.