NASA technicians at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, have started to install an Orion adapter for its Artemis I Mission spacecraft.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has released an update, noting that the installation of the adapter that will connect the Orion spacecraft to its rocket. The preparation is a part of the Artemis I mission that aims to bring "the first woman and the next man" on the Moon.

Installation of the Spacecraft Adapter Cone to the Orion Craft
(Photo : Orion Spacecraft Twitter Account)

Building the Orion Craft

This ongoing procedure is a part of the final major hardware operations for the Orion rocket within the NASA Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout (O&C). Afterwards, the Orion craft will be integrated with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. In installing the cone to the craft, Orion will be lifted from the Final Assembly and Systems Testing (FAST) cell to be transferred to the Super Station support fixture.

The SLS is the super heavy-lift launch vehicle intended to replace the retired NASA Space Shuttle. During the mission, the SLS will disconnect in varying stages to push Orion further into deep space.

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In the latest installation, an adapter cone connects to the bottom of Orion's service module. The connected unit will later be integrated to another adapter atop the rocket's ICPS, or interim cryogenic propulsion stage. The ICPS is a propulsion system based on liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. During the Artemis I flight, the ICPS is expected to give the spacecraft a boost before it returns to Earth.

Before connecting Orion on the SLS, coverings are also required for fluid lines and electrical components within the crew module adapter that will connect the crew and the service modules. Also, the crew module adapter contains electronic equipment that monitors and manages communications, power, and control.

Artemis I Mission

The Orion spacecraft will be launched as a part of the NASA Artemis I mission. Formerly known as the Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), this mission is an uncrewed test flight supported by the Orion Multi-Purpose Crewed Vehicle (MPCV) and the SLS heavy-lift rocket. While the craft will be outfitted with all necessary systems for a crewed flight, including communications and life support systems, it will go into space without any humans onboard.

In a map released by NASA back in 2018, the SLS-Orion craft will lift off from pad 39B at the modernized Kennedy Space Center. After a series of booster pushes and fly-bys over the moon's surface. Much like the recent SpaceX Crew Dragon Mission, the Artemis I is also expected to complete its mission with a splashdown on the Pacific Ocean within range of recovery ships operated by the US Navy.

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Nasa describes this mission as "the first in a series of increasingly complex missions" first to the Moon and later, to Mars. The succeeding missions aim to land the first woman and the next man on the moon's surface by eas early as 2024.

The Artemis mission is overseen by NASA, who works with commercial and industrial partners through its Commercial Crew Program. It has also enlisted international partners such as the Canadian Space Agency, Australian Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the European Space Agency.