What will be launched on the Moon in 2022

Robotic missions to Mars and advancements in space tourism dominated space activities in 2021. But in 2022, the moon is expected to stan...


Robotic missions to Mars and advancements in space tourism dominated space activities in 2021. But in 2022, the moon is expected to stand out as companies and governments launch various moon-related spacecraft.

Most of these missions revolve around Artemis, NASA’s multibillion-dollar effort to bring astronauts back to the moon later in the decade and conduct routine science missions to its surface for further trips. towards Mars (a much more ambitious endeavor that probably won’t happen in this decade). But before the astronauts hit the moon, a series of rocket tests and human-free science missions will need to be completed.

2022 is the year of these first steps towards the moon. Two new rockets at the heart of NASA’s lunar planes will be launched into space for the first time, each with more power than the Saturn 5 rocket from the Apollo program. And other countries are also expected to join the march to the moon.

After years of development delays, NASA’s Space Launch System, or SLS, could make its first trip to space – without any humans – as early as March 2022.

The mission, called Artemis 1, will mark the first in a series of flights under NASA’s Artemis program by SLS, NASA’s central rocket system for launching moon-bound astronauts from Earth. For Artemis 1, SLS will be launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to send a capsule named Orion around the moon and back, repeating a trajectory that will be performed by Artemis 2, the next mission which is expected to transport astronauts into the during 2024. The third mission, Artemis 3, will result in a moon landing.

Like any major space mission, Artemis 1 has been repeatedly delayed. It was originally scheduled for 2020, then postponed several times throughout 2021 due to development challenges and setbacks caused by the pandemic. NASA attributes the most recent delay to March 2022 to the need to investigate and replace a faulty internal computer controlling one of the rocket’s four main engines.

SpaceX’s spacecraft, which will be used as a human lunar lander around 2025, is at the heart of NASA’s efforts to bring humans back to the moon. This will be the agency’s first astronaut mission to the surface of the moon since 1972. Designed as a fully reusable rocket system, the spacecraft is also at the center of Elon Musk’s ultimate goal of transporting humans. to Mars and will be crucial for SpaceX’s revenue-generating satellite launch activities.

But first, Starship must reach orbit. This test flight, also without anyone on board, could take place in mid-2022.

Mr Musk, chief executive of SpaceX, had hoped to launch Starship into orbit in 2021. But an extended Federal Aviation Administration review of the environmental impact of SpaceX’s Texas launch site and delays in the development of new Raptor engines from the company postponed the test flight. The FAA review is expected to end in late February and determine whether more in-depth environmental reviews will be needed or whether SpaceX can resume Starship launches.

A successful orbital test will be a key step in NASA’s lunar program. Astronauts who launch atop the space launch system inside the Orion capsule will meet and transfer to the spacecraft above the moon to descend the rest of the way to the lunar surface. The spacecraft would later take off from the moon and then transfer the astronauts to Orion for the return trip to Earth.

Three robotic lunar landers as part of a NASA program are expected to head to the lunar surface in 2022 – if development goes as planned.

Houston-based Intuitive Machines and Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic each aim to send small lunar landers carrying various scientific payloads to the moon by the end of 2022. Their landers were developed as part of the program. NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services – Part of the agency’s efforts to rely on private companies to ship freight and research instruments into space in hopes of stimulating a commercial market.

Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander, a six-legged cylindrical robot, is expected to launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in early 2022, carrying a dozen payloads across the lunar surface. One of the instruments on board will measure the plume of lunar dirt raised during the Nova-C landing, an experiment that could help engineers prevent messy lunar landings in the future. The lander will also deploy a small rover built by Spacebit, a British company. In the fourth quarter of 2022, the company could also send a second mission to the surface of the Moon.

Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lander is a four-legged square lander with an on-board propulsion system that will settle on a basalt plain on the sunny side of the Moon’s northeast quadrant carrying 14 research payloads. The company said Peregrine would be ready to launch aboard United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan rocket in mid-2022.

But its launch on time depends on when the rocket is ready to fly. Vulcan’s debut was delayed by the supplier of the rocket engine, which is Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin. Its new BE-4 engines have not yet been delivered.

Rocket Lab, which builds rockets for small launches, is set to send in March 2022 a microwave-sized satellite, or CubeSat, for NASA called CAPSTONE from the company’s launch site in New Zealand. .

The satellite will study an orbit around the moon in which a future space station called the Gateway, developed by NASA and other space agencies, will reside over the next decade.

CAPSTONE will also test new navigation technology designed to calculate the position of a spacecraft relative to other spacecraft. Traditionally, satellites have used on-board cameras to determine their location relative to star formations or the apparent position of the sun. Instead, CAPSTONE will attempt to glean its position in space by communicating with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, an imaging satellite launched in 2009.

The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, a box-shaped satellite, will be South Korea’s first foray into the moon as the country aims to boost its technical know-how to conduct missions in space.

Led by Seoul space agency Korea Aerospace Research Institute, the spacecraft carrying six main tools is expected to launch in August 2022 on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and reach lunar orbit by December. He will spend a year studying the geology of the Moon and examining the chemical makeup of lunar dirt from afar.

The satellite will also carry a lunar terrain imager, which will study potential landing sites for an upcoming South Korean robotic lunar lander mission.

Lunar robots from three other countries will also attempt to reach the Moon in 2022.

The Luna-25 lander, possibly launched in mid-2022, will mark Russia’s first moon landing since 1976, when the Soviet-era Luna-24 lander collected lunar samples to return to Earth. The lander will study the lunar soil and test technologies for future Russian moon landings.

India plans to send the Chandrayaan-3 lander and rover to the moon in the third quarter of 2022, attempting its third lunar mission after the Indian mission Chandrayaan-2 lander-rover assembly crashed in 2019.

A Japanese space company, ispace, intends to send its Mission 1 lander to the moon in the current of second half of 2022. If the landing is successful, it will deploy a pair of rovers. One, a small four-wheeled robot named Rashid, is built by the United Arab Emirates. Another smaller robotic explorer built by the Japanese space agency is the size and shape of a basketball. It can transform into a rover after deployment, splitting in half and using its halves as wheels to move around and study lunar dirt.

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