If one looks at Artemis as a federal jobs program, it’s been a resounding success. That the first rocket performed pretty much flawlessly once it got off the ground is just a bonus.
$6B over? Then it is right on budget.
Technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida operate a 30-ton crane to lift and transfer the Orion spacecraft’s service module into the FAST (final assembly and system testing) cell on May 22, 2023, inside the spaceport’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building.
Teams are performing final checkouts of the Orion spacecraft’s service module before integrating the crew and service modules for Artemis II, the first Artemis mission with crew. In parallel, technicians from Airbus will conduct inspections of the solar array wings following the successful completion of service module acoustic testing in May, which ensured the service module can withstand the speed and vibration it will experience during launch and throughout the mission. During the inspections, each of the four panels will be fully redeployed and reexamined. The crew module also will undergo acoustic testing ahead of joining with the service module.
Artemis II crew members, shown inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, check out their Orion crew module on Aug. 8, 2023. From left are: Victor Glover, pilot; Reid Wiseman, commander; Christina Hammock Koch, mission specialist; and Jeremy Hansen, mission specialist. The crew module is undergoing acoustic testing ahead of integration with the European Service Module. Artemis II is the first crewed mission on NASA’s path to establishing a long-term lunar presence for science and exploration under Artemis. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
On Aug. 13, engineers and technicians inside the high bay of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida successfully completed a series of acoustic tests to ensure the Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis II mission can withstand the speed and vibration it will experience during launch and throughout the 10-day mission around the Moon, the first Artemis mission with astronauts.
Antonia Jaramillo Botero
Mobile launcher 1 is on its way to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to prepare for Artemis ll, the first crewed mission on the agency’s path to establishing a long-term presence at the Moon under Artemis.
Photo credit: NASA/Chad Siwik
Mobile launcher 1 is on its way to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to prepare for Artemis ll, the first crewed mission on the agency’s path to establishing a long-term presence at the Moon under Artemis. The ground structure began its trek from the west park site at approximately 8:27 a.m. EDT on Aug.16 atop the crawler-transporter 2. It will stop at the gate of pad 39B and resume its journey on Aug. 17.
Antonia Jaramillo Botero
The mobile launcher, carried by the crawler-transporter 2, rolls out from its park site location to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 16, 2023. While at the pad, it will undergo testing for the agency’s Artemis II mission. Under Artemis, the mobile launcher will transport NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to pad 39B for liftoff. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky
After an approximately four-mile journey over the course of two days, mobile launcher 1 arrived on Aug. 17 at Launch Pad 39B from its park site location at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will remain at the pad for several months as teams with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program prepare for Artemis ll, the first crewed mission under Artemis.
In related news, Russia has lost Luna-25. It has fallen down and gone boom. Hard.
[Edit, 8/21/23] Looks like a software bug or sticking valve caused Luna-25 to accidentally deorbit during an orbit lowering maneuver. TLDR; the engine fired for 127 seconds instead of just 84.
Engineers and technicians from NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and Boeing at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans have installed all four RS-25 engines to the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket that will help power the first crewed Artemis mission to the Moon. The yellow core stage is seen in a horizontal position in the final assembly area at Michoud. The engines are arranged at the bottom of the rocket stage in a square pattern, like legs on a table. Photo Credit: NASA/Eric Bordelon
Teams at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans have structurally joined all four RS-25 engines onto the core stage for NASA’s Artemis II Moon rocket. The flight test is the agency’s first crewed mission under Artemis.
Integration of the crew and service modules for the Artemis II Orion spacecraft was recently completed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA
On Oct.19, the Orion crew and service modules for the Artemis II mission were joined together inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Antonia Jaramillo Botero
Teams with Astrobotic install the NASA meatball decal on Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, at the Astrotech Space Operations Facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Peregrine will launch onboard a United Launch Alliance Vulcan rocket targeted for no earlier than Dec. 24, 2023, from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The lander will carry a suite of NASA payloads to the Moon as part of the agency’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative and Artemis program. Photo credit: NASA/Isaac Watson
Teams have installed the NASA meatball logo onboard Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander as part of NASA’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative and Artemis program ahead of its upcoming launch on Dec. 24 from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida
Bear in mind that Peregrine will be riding on the first flight of ULA’s Vulcan rocket. Admittedly, ULA and its parent companies have tended to succeed at first launches in the last couple of decades, but it is a first launch, and it is the first flight of Blue Origin’s BE-4 engines. The stakes here are much higher than those for SpaceX’s second Starship Integrated Flight Test were.