Blue Origin, the latest venture of Amazon's Jeff Bezos, is collaborating with NASA to turn its New Shepard rockets into a moon simulator to test innovations in moon-like gravity.
Blue Origin's Artificial Lunar Gravity
The team is set to update the spacecraft bound for the Artemis mission to be used as a capsule-like centrifuge, a laboratory device that rotates force to separate components from liquid and to recreate artificial lunar-gravity for payloads.
The device's reaction control thrusters would be able to produce spins of 11 rotations per minute during the flight's free-fall phase, which NASA reveals would produce a centripetal force equal to the moon's gravity.
Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin lunar gravity testing capabilities are slated to be available in late 2022 and is expected to be a key player in payload experimentations for the upcoming Artemis missions that is sending the first woman to the moon.
Challenges of the Lunar Gravity
Sending humans back to outer space and to the moon is challenging enough, but the real hurdle comes when astronauts set foot on the lunar surface-- the gravity of which is 1/6th of the Earth's.
In a statement, Christopher Baker, an executive at NASA's Flight Opportunities program, said that one of the constant challenges with living in space is reduced gravity. This means that many systems designed on Earth don't work as intended or at all in space.
Already, astronauts bound for space train in artificial gravity on Earth where they spend prolonged periods submerged in water. However, NASA and Blue Origin's partnership could simulate the way for the crew set for lunar travel to experience the same type of gravitational constraints.
Once upgraded, Blue Origin's New Shepard will use its Reaction Control System (RCS) as a navigational array for the rotation of the capsule.
The RCS utilizes rocket thrusters for attitude control, steering, small bursts of thrusts, and multidirectional control.
NASA, on Wednesday, announced that it passed a key assembly milestone with the SLS mega-rocket bringing the Artemis crew closer to launch.
The agency said that over the course of several weeks, ten segments that make up the two booster rockets were vertically stacked at the Kennedy Space Center. Once launched, the $18.6 billion Space Launch Systems will be the most powerful rockets ever constructed capable of shuttling payloads and crew to the lunar surface in a single trip.
The Artemis I launch set in 2021 is a vital milestone in ensuring the projected landing in 2024 where the first woman on the moon will land via Artemis III.
The team created the tallest and most powerful boosters built to help launch the Artemis I lunar missions. Bruise Tilleer, the SLS booster manager at Marshall Space Flight Center, expresses his gratitude and commends the team for the completion of the stacked SLS solid rocket boosters.
The Artemis launch scheduled in 2023 is set to be reminiscent of Apollo 10 and is intended as a dress rehearsal for the actual 2024 lunar mission.
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