NASA announced that the Orion spacecraft is only less than a week away from completing its extensive testing campaign. The tests were designed to analyze the spacecraft capability in preparation for its trips to the Moon for the Artemis program.
Orion's first voyage will be an unpiloted test flight around the Moon. Known as Artemis 1, this mission will determine if NASA is ready to embark on a future human mission to the lunar surface.
Orion spacecraft's testing campaign
In preparation for Artemis 1, NASA subjected the Orion spacecraft to a three-month testing program at its facility in Ohio. According to the agency, the spacecraft was exposed to various extreme environments that were designed to replicate the conditions it will encounter in its first test flight.
"NASA's Orion spacecraft, a critical part of the agency's Artemis I mission, is nearing the end of a three-month testing campaign at the agency's Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio," the agency said in a statement. "During the testing, the craft was subjected to the extreme temperatures and electromagnetic environment it will experience in its upcoming test mission to the Moon."
NASA events for Orion
To celebrate Orion's latest milestone, NASA will host two special events this week at the Plum Brook Station. The first event will take place in March. It will provide members of the media to see the Orion spacecraft and its various features, such as its service and crew modules.
The second event will be held on March 14, which will mark the end of Orion's testing campaign. Various officials from NASA will be present at the event to discuss the tests conducted on Orion. The spacecraft will then be prepped for its departure from Plum Brook Station. It will be transported to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for its upcoming launch.
The Artemis programs' upcoming missions
Orion's Artemis 1 mission is expected to take place on April 18, 2021. As an unmanned test flight, Artemis 1 will help prepare NASA for Orion's first crewed mission known as Artemis 2, which is planned to launch sometime during the fourth quarter of 2022.
For Artemis 2, the crew of the Orion spacecraft will spend 21 days orbiting the Moon. It will then be followed by Artemis 3, which will serve as NASA's first crewed lunar landing mission since the Apollo program. According to the agency, Artemis 3 will launch sometime in 2024.