Additional Artemis I Test Objectives to Provide Additional Confidence in Abilities – Parabola

The Orion spacecraft is in orbit around the Moon. (credit: NASA)

NASA mission update

During Artemis I, NASA plans to achieve several primary goals, including demonstrating the performance of the Orion spacecraft’s heat shield from return velocities to the Moon, demonstrating operations and facilities during all mission phases from launch countdown to recovery, and crew unit recovery for post-flight analytics. . As the first integrated flight of the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft and Earth exploration systems at 21 NASAStreet Space Century In Florida, engineers hope to accomplish a set of additional test goals to better understand how the spacecraft will perform in space and prepare for future missions with the crew.

Achieving additional goals helps reduce mission risks with the crew and provides additional data so engineers can assess trends in spacecraft performance or improve confidence in spacecraft capabilities. Some of the additional goals planned for Artemis I include:

modal scan

In the European built service module, Orion is equipped with 24 Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters, which are small actuators responsible for moving and rotating the spacecraft in different directions. A typical survey is a specific series of small RCS launches that will help engineers ensure the structural margin of Orion’s solar array wings during the mission. Flight controllers will issue several small engine firings to cause the arrays to bend. They will measure the effect of firing on the arrays and assess whether the inertial measurement units used in navigation are testing what they should do. Until the prototyping scan is complete, large localized transcripts are limited to 40 seconds.

Optical Navigation Camera Certificate

Orion has an advanced guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) system, which is responsible for always knowing where a spacecraft is in space, how to point it, and where it’s headed. It mainly uses two star trackers, sensitive cameras that take pictures of the star field around Orion, the moon and the Earth, and compare the images to the combined star map. An optical navigation camera is a secondary camera that takes pictures of the Moon and Earth to help orient the spacecraft by looking at the size and position of celestial bodies in the image. Several times during the mission, the optical navigation camera will be tested to certify its use on future flights. Once approved, the camera can also help Orion return home independently if it loses contact with Earth.

Characterization of Wi-Fi Solar Array Wing Camera

Cameras mounted on the tips of the solar wings communicate with the Orion camera controller through an internal Wi-Fi network. Flight controllers will reposition the solar arrays to test Wi-Fi strength while the arrays are in different configurations. The test will allow engineers to improve the speed at which images captured by cameras at the ends of the arrays can be transmitted to compact recorders.

Crew/Service Unit Surveys

Flight controllers will use cameras on the four wings of the solar array to take detailed images of the crew unit and service unit twice during the mission to identify any strikes from micrometeorites or orbital debris. A survey conducted early in the mission will provide images shortly after the spacecraft has flown beyond the altitude where space debris is and a second survey will occur on the re-entry station several days before re-entry.

Large File Delivery Protocol Link

Engineers at the Mission Control Center will link large data files to Orion to better understand how much time it takes for the spacecraft to receive large files. During the mission, flight controllers use the deep space network to communicate and send data to the spacecraft, but pre-flight testing does not include use of the network. The test will help inform engineers to understand whether the spacecraft’s uplink and downlink capability is sufficient to support validation of human classification for end-to-end communications prior to Artemis II, the first flight with astronauts.

Thermal evaluation of star tracing

Engineers hope to characterize the alignment between the star trackers that are part of the guidance, navigation and control system and Orion’s inertial measurement units, by exposing different regions of the spacecraft to the sun and activating the star trackers in different thermal states. The measurements will report uncertainty in the case of navigation due to thermal curvature and expansion that ultimately affects the amount of fuel needed to maneuver spacecraft during manned missions.

Coolant loop flow control

Two coolant loops on the spacecraft’s European Service Module help expel heat from various systems throughout the flight. There are two modes of radiators. During gear mode, the radiator pumps operate at a constant speed to help reduce vibrations and is the primary mode used during Artemis I and during launch for all Artemis flights. The control mode allows for better control of the radiator pumps and their flow rate, and will be used on manned missions when more precise control of flow through the radiators is required. This target will test the control mode to provide additional data on how it works in space.

Solar Array Wing Column

Depending on the angle of the Orion solar array’s wings during some thruster firings, the plume or exhaust gases from those fires can increase the temperature of the arrays. Through a series of small RCS launches, engineers will collect data to characterize the heating of the solar array’s wings.

fuel slash

Liquid fuels kept in tanks on spacecraft move through space differently than on Earth due to the lack of gravity in space. The motion of thrust, or slosh, is difficult to model in space on Earth, so engineers plan to collect data about thruster motion during many of the activities planned during the mission.

Look for Acquisition and Trace (SAT) mode

SAT mode is an algorithm intended to restore and maintain communications with Earth after Orion’s navigation state is lost, the prolonged loss of communications with Earth, or after a temporary power loss causes Orion to restart devices. To test the algorithm, flight controllers will instruct the spacecraft to enter SAT mode, and after about 15 minutes, it will restore normal communications. The SAT test mode will give engineers confidence that it can be relied upon as the ultimate option for repairing communications loss when the crew is on board.

thermal entry

During the spacecraft’s entry through Earth’s atmosphere, a specific series of 19 launches of the reaction control system will be performed on the crew module to understand performance against the expected sequence data. Engineers are interested in collecting this data during the spacecraft’s high heating, when atmospheric thermal effects are greatest.

Integrated search and rescue functions for satellite-assisted tracking (SARSAT)

The SARSAT test will verify the connection between beacons worn by crew on future flights and ground stations that receive the signal. The signals will be activated and played remotely for about an hour after being sprayed, and will help engineers understand whether the transmitted signal is interfering with communications equipment used during recovery operations, including Orion’s built-in three-band beacon that relays the spacecraft’s exact location after a crash. .

Restarting the ammonia boiler

After starting Artemis I, the Orion ammonia boiler will be turned off for several minutes and then restarted to provide additional data about the system’s capacity. Ammonia boilers are used to help control the spacecraft’s thermal aspects to keep power and avionics systems cool, and to keep the interior of the crew unit at a comfortable temperature for future crews. In some potential emergency landing scenarios for manned missions, crews may need to turn off the ammonia boiler to check for hazards outside the spacecraft, and then turn it back on again to provide additional cooling.

Engineers will perform additional tests to collect the data, including monitoring the heat barrier and internal components for saltwater intrusion after splashing. They will also test the spacecraft’s GPS receiver to determine the spacecraft’s ability to pick up the signal being sent around Earth, which can be used to increase the spacecraft’s ability to understand its location if communications with mission controllers are lost.

Collectively, performing additional targets during flight provides additional information that engineers can use to improve Orion as a NASA spacecraft that will transport humans into deep space for years to come.

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