Instead of a sleigh ride, the next moon astronauts had a slide ride ahead of their 2024 mission.
The Artemis 2 moon crew practiced how to get safely out of their Orion spacecraft after an ocean splashdown should they need to leave in a hurry, and they recorded the activities on video. As you can see, the emergency procedure has the astronauts leave the spacecraft and slide down into simulated ocean water, wearing floatation devices, to wait for recovery teams in the ocean.
In order, here is who made the brief holiday ride on video: NASA pilot Victor Glover (who will become the first person of color to leave low Earth orbit), NASA commander Reid Wiseman, NASA mission specialist Christina Koch (the first woman) and Canadian Space Agency mission specialist Jeremy Hansen (the first non-American).
Artemis 2 aims to be the first in NASA's greater Artemis program to send humans around the moon. Artemis 1, an uncrewed mission, already tested out most of Orion's systems along with the huge rocket, known as the Space Launch System. Artemis 2 will bring the astronaut quartet on a round-the-moon mission after doing testing of the life support system and other elements in progressively higher orbits around Earth.
The four astronauts are doing at least 18 months of training to prepare for the big opportunity, which might be delayed given it is a developmental mission in which training procedures are being formulated as they go.
But after the crew met with U.S. President Joe Biden last week to discuss their training progress, Wiseman emphasized to reporters that deadlines are not their concern. "As the crew, we don't even think about the date," Wiseman said in a gaggle with reporters, according to ABC News. "We will go when NASA and the vehicle are ready to fly."
As the crew continues their training, key hardware for the mission is being assembled around the United States. The boosters and Orion are in testing and construction at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, the core stage of SLS is being readied for shipment at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, and a key adapter that connects Orion to SLS is at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.
Meanwhile, the mobile launcher is being tested at the launch pad at KSC before being rolled into the famous Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) in a few months. As long as the mission timeline holds, NASA will then stack the core stage, boosters, adapter and Orion in the VAB in summer and fall 2024 ahead of the expected launch at the end of the year.
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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