The four astronauts aboard Orion will use a target attached to the space propulsion stage to demonstrate approach operations to test Orion's navigation capabilities. The target underwent illumination tests in May to ensure that it could be seen in different lighting conditions in space
An essential auxiliary target for NASA's Artemis 2 mission is ready for flight after undergoing testing at a ULA facility in Florida. On May 16, company workers attached the target to the space propulsion stage of a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at ULA's Delta Operations Center at the Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida. After the Orion spacecraft successfully separates from the rocket's upper stage, the four Orion astronauts will use a target attached to the propulsion stage in space to demonstrate approach operations to test Orion's navigational capabilities. The target underwent illumination tests in May to ensure that it could be seen in different lighting conditions in space.
The SLS rocket provides staged propulsion to bring the Artemis missions to the Moon. The Intermediate Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) and its single RL10 engine are fired twice during the Artemis 2 mission. The launches will put the Orion spacecraft and astronauts in high Earth orbit, where they will test Orion's manual guidance capabilities using the ICPS and its auxiliary target before continuing to the Moon .
During this demonstration, the astronauts will use a target about 60 cm in size to test Orion's navigation system and other vital systems. This will help assess the spacecraft's ability to approach another large spacecraft and fly alongside it in space before future Artemis missions that require docking capabilities.
NASA is working to land the first woman and the first non-white man on the moon as part of the Artemis program. SLS plays a vital role in NASA's deep space exploration infrastructure, along with the Orion spacecraft, advanced spacesuits, ground vehicles, the Lunar Orbit Gateway and commercial human landing systems. It is worth noting that SLS is the only rocket capable of sending Orion, the astronauts and supplies to the moon in one mission.
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