back to article As one mission returns to Earth, three more make for the Moon

Humanity has retrieved one attempt to explore its natural satellite, and launched three more. The retrieval was conducted by NASA, which landed its Orion spacecraft in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday afternoon, marking the end of the first Artemis mission to the Moon and its orbital environs. Immediately after the splashdown, …

  1. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Often despised, NASA should be congratulated for the success of this mission. Despite several delays, this difficult mission ended successfully and this is what matters.

    If it goes to plan, the craft will touch down in April 2023.

    Will the hamsters powering the spacecraft be able to pedal that long?

    == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Definitely, congrats on the success of this mission. The skip was amazing, especially after being shown all the SF dramas where the risk of bouncing off the atmosphere, never to return, was the big finale.

      Now, I am going to open a can of worms here, but let's see...

      > Often despised, NASA

      Ignoring the loonies (flat earthers, Moon landing denialists) why despise NASA? Projects like SLS are way behind and people keep comparing it SpaceX, but much (most? all?) of the delays appear - from the outside - to come from interference (e.g. being told to use up Shuttle parts, which themselves were - suboptimal - due to interference).

      Against SLS they've had - have - success with other missions (skycrane on Mars? Yowser).

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Why despised?

        Well, basically because NASA is an unwieldy bureaucratic jobs program, not a space program.

        Stuff is contracted based on Congressional districts and run based on Congressional edicts, not basic science or research needs.

        NASA is unable to get anything done at a reasonable price at a reasonable speed.

        To be fair, this is not really NASA's fault. They're hobbled as a government agency, with no actual plans more than 2-3 years out, and unable to make long range plans because the next president will change them.

        For example, Artemis II is planned to launch in THREE years. And looking at NASA's track record, which is even worse than "Elon Musk Time", that'll probably be 5-6 years.

        1. Doctor Tarr

          It’s astonishing that they ever get anything done with the oversight, meddling and short-termism NASA have to deal with.

          Our gummint can't even build a railway track between Birmingham and London without major issues.

          1. Ken G Silver badge

            But at least they launched BLACK ARROW

        2. RyokuMas

          "Well, basically because NASA is an unwieldy bureaucratic jobs program, not a space program."

          True. NASA's original plan for getting to Mars was hugely over-complicated because every department wanted their pet project to remain relevant. Had they gone with Mars Direct - or even Mars Semi-Direct - we'd have had boots on the ground on the red planet by now.

          1. Jan 0 Silver badge

            "NASA's original plan for getting to Mars"

            Yes, but if he USA had gone ahead with the original Orion Project, we'd probably have cosmonauts* orbiting Jupiter today.

            (Ah, yes, there might be some cancer hotspots too;(

            * naming from precedence.

            ++ Bring back Dabsy! Now! ++

        3. that one in the corner Silver badge

          So - just for getting anything done at all, against a background of political interference, that sounds like a jolly good reason to cheer them on and say how well they are doing *despite* having the cards stacked against them!

        4. awavey

          Artemis II is scheduled for May 2024, I dont think it will slip into 2025, even if it slips close to it, unless some major issue crops up in the data review of Artemis I or the transfer of components to the next Orion.

          Their biggest problem is really fixing & hardening the mobile launch platform, all the other hardware is coming together well, with production of Artemis III already underway.

  2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Congratulations are certainly in order. And a party :-)

    However, I watched the recovery of the capsule. All 5 hours of it. It went well, but I think they're going to have to come up with a quicker way of getting the capsule out of the water. I understand this was the first time, and that they were being very, very careful, but had the seas been anything but dead calm (5 foot swells, but it looked like they went down a bit as the day progressed), the scheme they used would not have worked.

    The person driving the drag boat did an absolutely tremendous job, keeping the winch line taut and keeping the capsule lined up, but you could see that he was working hard, and rougher seas would have made it much more challenging. I do understand that the Orion capsule is much heavier than the Apollo ones, so just hooking it up to a helicopter and lifting it onto an aircraft carrier is out, sadly.

    As for the re-entry, stunning video. And all on autopilot, touchdown within 5 miles of the target! Watching the ioised plume before blackout, watching the horizon flip from side to side as the capsule did its velocity shedding S-turns, and then seeing the chutes deploy was a real treat -- all live and in real time. Some very nice work there on the part of the controllers and the techies in charge of the video downlink. I do wish that we had been able to see the IR video from the WB-57 camera, but I suspect that maybe that's video they're not disclosing. Apparently they were able to detect the heat signature of the capsule at 200k ft altitude during re-entry.

    1. Andrew Newstead

      It was planned that way, they kept the capsule in the water longer to see if the re entry had damaged it in ways they weren’t expecting and had compromised it’s seakeeping ability.

      1. awavey

        Absolutely it was part of the engineering testing to see how the systems, cooling, coped for an extended period left in the water, in case the capsule were to land off course, or rendezvous was delayed, or escaping hypergolics,basically for whatever reason it took recovery vessels longer to safe the capsule to extract the crew.

        Better to do it now when it's just Snoopy, Shaun the sheep and a couple of dummies on board

        Plus they were collecting as much data on the capsule as possible since it's the first landing with this heat shield from a non earth orbit, you dont want to drag it on board the ship and then go I wish we'd measured the temperature of the outer skin around this important part of the capsule which might critically impact future missions.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "And all on autopilot, touchdown within 5 miles of the target!"

      All things considered, ie speed, parachutes, weather etc, it's pretty amazing. On the other hand, we are getting accustomed to SpaceX coming down within 5" of their target spot :-)

      1. awavey

        Not from 24,500mph we dont, theres a big difference, that starship will have to cope with, from reentry from moon orbital velocities and the kind of just above the karman line booster reentry at about a quarter of the speed Falcon 9 does.

  3. Jan 0 Silver badge

    >attached a cable called a winch line

    You mean, that they attached a winch line?

    Which avoids the confusion that most Reg Readers think a cable transmits data, or at least electricity. The word winch disambiguates it nicely.

    ++ Bring back Dabsy! Now! ++

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: >attached a cable called a winch line

      No, no - it is *called* a winch line, but it was born a hawser, although it has never accepted growing up and still thinks of the days when it was still a slim length of cordage. Dreaming of playing in the foc'sle and pretending to be scared of the decorative willow rope, which was very noisy, creaking as it was looped around a stanchion: everyone knew that its bark was worse than its bight.

      1. Jan 0 Silver badge

        Re: >attached a cable called a winch line

        Priceless! Thank you.

        ++ Bring back Dabsy! Now! ++

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: >attached a cable called a winch line

        "everyone knew that its bark was worse than its bight."L

        Excellent, just a shame you missed Barque :-)

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