Technicians at NASA ‘s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) have opened hatch of Orion. The American agency has begun to unpack the space shuttle after the lunar mission. “This week, technicians will remove nine avionics boxes from the Orion, which will then be refurbished for Artemis 2, the first mission with astronauts”, officials wrote in an update (ref.) Tuesday January 10.

The inspection operations

“NASA has finally opened hatch of Orion. In the coming months, technicians will remove the dangerous goods that remain on board. Once the operation is completed, the spacecraft will go to the Neil A. Armstrong Test Facility of NASA for other tests” they added. Artemis 1 was launched on November 16 from KSC on top of a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, sending the Orion without crew, towards the lunar orbit. The first mission of the NASA Artemis program, ended when the Orion probe crashed off the coast of Baja California on December 11.

The capsule then traveled by truck across the country, arriving at KSC on December 30. Since then, technicians have inspected Orion and its various systems, evaluating how they have performed during the nearly 26-day mission. The capsule’s 5-meter wide thermal shield, the largest ever flown, is receiving special attention, given the extreme conditions it has undergone on its return. During this delicate phase, crossing the Earth’s atmosphere, the thermal shield endured temperatures up to 2,800 ° C, about half the surface of the Sun.

The inspections in progress will be preparatory for the Artemis 2 mission, which should launch astronauts around the moon in 2024. If everything goes well, NASA will then be able to prepare for Artemis 3. The latter will take crew members near the south pole of the Moon, where the agency plans to build a research outpost by the end of the decade. Artemis 3 should take off in 2025 or 2026.

Sofia Bianchi

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