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After pedaling his bike toward the barrier-island dunes of Melbourne Beach, Florida Institute of Technology professor J. Travis Hunsker watched as NASA’s Artemis I satellite rocket arched a fiery path across the post-midnight sky last month, twinkling in a tiny blip. Above the sky. Atlantic Ocean.
right Now , aAn assistant professor of engineering and marine sciences reported for the naval amphibious transport ship USS Portland in San Diego. On Sunday, it will help predict and analyze wave dynamics to guide NASA officials as they retrieve the rocket’s swaying Orion capsule after it plunged into the Pacific Ocean.
“It’s like, Whoa. I saw this car fall off the horizon onto our beach. We see these beautiful pictures of it orbiting the moon. And then, you’ll see it come to the surface of the well after four weeks,” Hansuker said, pointing to the lower level of the ship that will be It was flooded to load the capsule aboard.
“I’ll be on the other coast of the United States to see the same engineering article, and catch it in the ocean,” he said.
more:Artemis 1: NASA’s Orion breaks records halfway through its journey into deep space
more:NASA: ‘Amazing’ force of Artemis rocket damaged KSC’s mobile launch pad
The 322-foot Artemis I rocket blasted skyward on November 16 from Platform 39B at Kennedy Space Center, lifting the uncrewed Orion capsule on an epic 1.3-million-mile journey that orbited twice around the Moon.
At the conclusion of its 25-day mission, Artemis’ Orion capsule will slow down from 25,000 mph — nearly ten times faster than a rifle bullet — to 300 mph after entering Earth’s atmosphere. The capsule’s heat shield must reach 5,000 roasting degrees, or twice the temperature of molten lava.
After deploying a series of parachutes, NASA engineers expect the 11-by-16-foot capsule to slow to about 20 mph before gliding toward Earth and hitting the sea surface in sight of the rescue ship’s crew, 50 to 60 nautical miles off San Diego. coast.
Upon the crash, Melissa Jones, director of descent and recovery for NASA’s Artemis I, said, “We’re frantically trying to get into the capsule” to retrieve abandoned hardware pieces that could have sunk into the ocean depths. This includes the spacecraft’s ring-shaped front bay cover, which protects parachutes and other soft goods during re-entry.
NASA is all about data. And we also want to transport the crew on the next mission. So this is a major test flight for us, until we can recover that data,” Jones said.
The Orion landing and recovery team consists of about 95 people and includes marine amphibian specialists who pilot inflatable dinghies; NASA engineers and technicians from KSC and Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas; Air Force meteorologists. and Lockheed Martin Space Operations personnel. A squadron of helicopters from the North Island would provide the nearby Naval Air Station with aerial detection.
Portland will approach the bobbing Orion, Jones said, and divers will use sensors to perform “sniff checks” for hydrazine or ammonia leaking from the capsule. Then Navy personnel would attach tending lines to Orion and flood the surface of the well with about 6 feet of seawater, and a cable would pull the floating spacecraft through the ship’s low tailgate into a specially designed cradle.
Then, Portland will move the capsule to a dock at the Naval Base in San Diego.
Jones said the primary splash site is within the Navy’s Fleet Training Area — a move designed to keep recreational boaters at bay. In August 2020, the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavor was swept away by a makeshift fleet of private ships after it landed in the Gulf of Mexico near Pensacola with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board.
The Orion crew module is designed to carry four astronauts into deep space during future missions within a habitable zone of 330 cubic feet. On Sunday, Jones said, the recovery team will do everything possible to try to recover the capsule’s three main parachutes for scientific analysis.
Jones said the recovery team will have about six hours to collect samples, photos, and run assessments and tests before pulling the uninhabited capsule to the surface of the well. This will include about an hour and a half of photos documenting the state of the heat shield before it touched anything inside Portland.
Three sensor-equipped mannequins are on board Orion for testing purposes. By contrast, Artemis II will propel four astronauts on a flight over the Moon.
Artemis II astronauts will maneuver out of the Orion hatch into open water before the crew module is lifted onto a Navy ship — and the astronauts must report to the ship’s medical bay inside, said Liliana Villarreal, who will direct NASA’s capsule recovery drive for the mission. Two hours.
“It’s completely different,” Villarreal said. “There’s a lot of equipment that we have to make sure we turn it off before we can do that.” “There are interfaces with the crew suits that have to make sure the disconnect is for the crew to get out of the vehicle safely.”
Jones: NASA leadership career was ‘in my blood’
Jones was born and raised in Oak Hill, a small Volusia County town of about 2,000 residents off US 1 north of North Kuwait City and the Merritt National Wildlife Refuge.
Because of her deep family ties to Kip, she suspects her work at NASA was “in my blood”. As a child, she thought space travel was commonplace: “I kind of grew up thinking that going out in the front yard and looking at a launch was normal, I guess.”
My grandfather was a security guard at KSC, and my grandmother worked in a gift shop. My dad was the director of the Titan program. “My mom was a quality inspector at NASA,” Jones said.
While attending the University of Central Florida, Jones recalled receiving a phone call in February 2003 from her mother, Sue Hutchinson, who was standing at the 15,000-foot shuttle landing facility waiting for the shuttle Columbia to return to the Cape.
“She called and she woke me up, and said, ‘Get up and turn on the news.'” And the call ended. And there was the rest of the day,” Jones recalled.
Columbia tragically crashed over Texas during atmospheric re-entry, killing all seven astronauts on board.
In January 2004, Jones joined NASA’s shuttle program as a contractor on the return-to-flight mission, which culminated in the successful launch of Discovery in July 2005. By 2007, she was NASA’s principal probe project engineer for the shuttle Endeavor.
Jones is NASA’s first director of capsule recovery and is based at KSC: Her Apollo-era counterparts in Texas were based at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“I’m really the first person to do this job before — and we haven’t done it for over 50 years. It’s such an honor to be chosen to do this,” Jones said.
“My family laid the foundation for the space for me, and I am carrying on that legacy. And I hope my kids see that, and want to continue it, too.”
Splashdown weather and waves are major factors
Hunsucker spent the days leading up to Sunday working on forecasts of waves along the San Diego coast, where the Pacific Ocean can swell across a wide geographic swath stretching from the Gulf of Alaska to the Southern Hemisphere.
He’s spent the past four years analyzing Orion-Recovery wave forecast data with the meteorology group at Johnson Space Center, particularly from NASA’s recovery exercises using dummy capsules. A crucial component of his job: Portland placement to reduce waves within the well deck of the vessel.
“You have this 700-foot ship that’s been hit by waves. It starts to move. Inside that ship, you have a good deck. It also has waves caused by the ship moving,” Hunsucker said.
“My role is to understand how ocean waves affect vessel movement, how vessel movement affects well surface waves, and therefore how well surface waves affect crew unit,” he said.
NASA’s Orion Recovery Team completed a three-day “final rehearsal” exercise at sea last week aboard Portland using a prototype capsule. Jones said staff at the Johnson Space Center will select a launch site on Sunday based on weather conditions, flight rules that specify “sea condition” requirements for surf work, and “high wind” standards to ensure parachutes work properly.
If conditions warrant, Orion could make rotational showers southeast of the Catalina Islands near Los Angeles, Judd Freleng, NASA’s director of flight aeronautics, said during a briefing Monday. Or, Orion could land “short” — about 1,200 nautical miles south of San Diego. He described this trio of distribution sites as Plan A / Plan B / Plan C options menu.
Large red balloons attached to the capsule are notable features of the crew module uprighting system amidst the rolling ocean waves, said Carla Recucci, principal test manager for NASA’s Earth Exploration Systems Program.
Hunsucker, who works by contract with Jacobs Technology, said the Portland address will also depend on the shapes and inclines of incoming waves. He likened the exercise to driving a car through a potholed parking lot.
“I think we’re all hoping we’ll get to a nice, flat, quiet day,” Hansucker said.
Watch it live at floridatoday.com
NASA’s Orion capsule is expected to lift off at 12:40 p.m. EST on Sunday, December 11th. Watch live coverage at floridatoday.com starting at 11 a.m. EST.
Rick Neale is the South Brevard Watchdog reporter for FLORIDA TODAY (For more of his stories, click here.) Contact Neale at 321-242-3638 or email@example.com. Twitter: @tweet
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