The next four moon astronauts signed their names Monday (Nov. 27) on a rocket piece that will send them to lunar realms in late 2024, only one year from now.
The Artemis 2 crew, amid moon training, put their signatures on the adapter for their Orion spacecraft, which will be mounted on top of the massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The four astronauts, clad in cleanroom wear, did the ceremonial activity at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The adapter will sit just underneath the astronauts' Orion spacecraft during their round-the-moon mission, NASA officials wrote in a Tuesday (Nov. 28) release about the signatures.
"The Orion stage adapter is a small ring structure that connects NASA's Orion spacecraft to the SLS rocket's interim cryogenic propulsion stage, and fully manufactured at Marshall," the release stated. "The adapter's diaphragm will serve as a barrier to prevent gases created during launch from entering the spacecraft."
Artemis 2 includes NASA commander Reid Wiseman, NASA pilot Victor Glover (the first Black person to leave low Earth orbit), NASA mission specialist Christina Koch (the first woman) and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen (the first non-American).
The crew has been making some visits to NASA centers amid an ambitious 18 months of training in which they are formulating procedures as they go, given Artemis 2 is the first human moon mission since Apollo 17's landing in 1972.
They are also working through training with Orion, along with medical procedures, and a recovery exercise should take place relatively soon at sea with NASA and the U.S. Navy. The Orion spacecraft itself completed its first power-on test at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Nov. 6 ahead of a one- to two-week simulated software and hardware exercise for a full mission.
The core stage of the rocket, under construction at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, saw all four engines firmly secured Oct. 6 ahead of testing on what NASA officials term the rocket "brains": The avionics and electrical systems. After Michoud, the core stage will voyage near the launch pad at KSC, via barge. The twin solid rocket boosters for Artemis 2 are also under assembly at KSC, starting with the aft assemblies that steer the rockets, while the mobile launcher to support SLS has undergone water deluge testing and other work.
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace