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Australian scientists to monitor NASA’s Artemis 1 on historic space mission to the moon | POT

For 42 days after launch, Australian scientists will track NASA’s Artemis I on its way to the moon and back.

The launch was planned for Monday night, but was canceled due to technical problems. The next release window will be Friday.

The mission is a “dress rehearsal” to send humans to the moon in 2025, says CSIRO Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) spokesman Glen Nagle.

When it moves forward, a Space Launch System rocket will propel the Orion spacecraft into Earth orbit. Orion will then use its own propulsion source to de-orbit and head into deep space.

Approximately 70 minutes after the spacecraft launches from Cape Canaveral in Florida, CDSCC will pick up the signal and work with its NASA Deep Space Network stations in Spain and California to monitor and triangulate Orion.

Orion will spend about eight days to reach the moon, orbit for about a week, and then splash down in the Pacific Ocean in October.

Nagle, now 60, said he was a seven-year-old in 1969 when he saw Buzz Aldrin land on the moon as part of the Apollo mission, and he felt that way again.

“It’s very exciting,” he said.

“The team in the control room will be busy preparing the antennas to make first contact with the spacecraft. We will be the first station to have contact with the spacecraft as it begins its journey to the Moon and then of course we will have continued contact through our partners.

“We’re going to get telemetry from the spacecraft, make sure all the equipment is working properly, and send that information back to Houston, and we’ll track it down, making sure it’s on course.”

The team will also monitor a small fleet of shoebox-sized satellites, or cubesats, that will be deployed along Orion’s journey.

This is a practice run for when the manned mission heads for the moon. That mission will not only be in orbit, but will land and begin work on a settlement that will eventually be a launching point for Mars.

This mission may not have a human crew, but it does have Captain Moonikin Campos on board. Moonikin, named by the public and partly in tribute to the Apollo 13 engineer Arthur Fieldsit will wear the same full-body spacesuits that the Artemis astronauts will wear and will be equipped with sensors to detect radiation, acceleration and vibration.

She will be joined by two female-bodied mannequin torsos named Zohar and Helga.

“Sean the sheep” is on board to acknowledge the European Space Agency’s involvement, and there are a variety of other materials included as part of the experiment.

CSIRO Executive Director Professor Elanor Huntington said recent improvements to the Canberra complex were critical to Australia’s role.

“Australia was there for the first moon landing and CSIRO is excited to be there when NASA lands the first woman and first person of color on the moon in the 2020s,” he said.

“CSIRO’s longstanding relationship with NASA dates back more than 60 years, creating innovative solutions from science and fueled by our shared ambition to push the boundaries of imagination to benefit life on Earth.

“Our team of experts at the CDSCC and its sister Deep Space Network stations located in Spain and the US will provide 24-hour coverage of the mission.”

This article was amended on August 29, 2022. The mission that sends humans back to the moon is planned for 2025, not 2035 as the subtitle and text of an earlier version said.


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