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April 22, 2024

While NASA said its uncrewed Artemis I flight test proved successful, the agency also flagged areas that needed work before the next launch.

In a press release Wednesday, NASA said its ground systems needed for launch and recovery are ready for astronauts to fly to the moon.

“We’re learning as much as we can from Artemis I to make sure we fully understand every aspect of our system and apply those lessons to how we plan and execute crewed missions,” said Jim Free, NASA’s associate administrator for exploration systems The Development Mission Council said in a statement. “Safe flight crews are our number one priority with Artemis II.”

Initial and additional analyzes of Space Launch Systems’ rocket flights indicated that all of its systems met and exceeded performance expectations.

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On the 19th day of the Artemis I mission, on December 4, 2022, cameras mounted on the Orion spacecraft captured footage of the moon as Orion prepared to return for a powered flyby on December 5, when it passed about 79 miles across the lunar surface. (NASA)

However, there are some outliers.

For example, the 8.8 million pounds of thrust generated by the mobile launcher at liftoff caused more damage than initially expected.

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As part of the post-flight analysis, technicians inspect Orion's heat shield.

As part of the post-flight analysis, technicians inspect Orion’s heat shield. (NASA)

Additionally, NASA said engineers noticed changes to the appearance of Orion’s heat shield, in which ablative material that helps protect it from the extreme heat of reentry “worn differently than expected.”

In this photo provided by NASA, on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, the Orion spacecraft of the Artemis I mission splashes down in the Pacific Ocean after completing a 25.5-day mission to the Moon.

In this photo provided by NASA, on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, the Orion spacecraft of the Artemis I mission splashes down in the Pacific Ocean after completing a 25.5-day mission to the Moon. (NASA via AP)

Experts also continued to evaluate an issue observed during the flight in which the latching restrictor opened without command multiple times throughout the mission.

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While working to understand each issue, NASA said it was making progress ahead of the Artemis II mission, noting that Orion has completed 161 test objectives and all spacecraft dynamic separation events have been successfully completed.



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