NASA’s Artemis 1: Orion will attempt to outrun the first entry of a human spacecraft

Illustration of NASA’s Orion spacecraft entering Earth’s atmosphere. Credit: NASA

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Founded in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States federal government that is the successor to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aviation and space research. see it is “To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of mankind.” its core values “Safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence and inclusion.”

“data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{” attribute=””>NASA’s Artemis I mission to the Moon draws to a close, the Orion spacecraft is on its way back to Earth, with the planned splashdown on Sunday, December 11, fast approaching. When Orion is nearing its return to Earth, it will attempt the first skip entry for a human spacecraft. This maneuver is designed to pinpoint its landing spot in the Pacific Ocean.

During this skip entry, Orion will dip into the upper part of Earth’s atmosphere and use that atmosphere, along with the lift of the capsule, to skip back out of the atmosphere, then reenter for final descent under parachutes and splashdown. It’s a little like skipping a rock across the water in a river or lake.

“The skip entry will help Orion land closer to the coast of the United States, where recovery crews will be waiting to bring the spacecraft back to land,” said Chris Madsen, Orion guidance, navigation and control subsystem manager. “When we fly crew in Orion beginning with Artemis II, landing
Ever skip stones across a pond? Imagine doing this with a spacecraft. When the Orion spacecraft built by Lockheed Martin returns to Earth at the end of the Artemis I mission, it will attempt a never-before-done guidance and control maneuver called skip-entry. This maneuver enables precise landing positioning for safer crew recovery efforts.

During Apollo, the spacecraft entered Earth’s atmosphere directly and could then travel up to 1,725 ​​miles (1,500 nautical miles/2,880 km) outside of that location before crashing down. This limited range required US Navy ships to be stationed at several remote locations in the ocean. Using the skip-entry, Orion can fly up to 5,524 miles (4,800 nautical miles/8,890 km) beyond the point of entry, allowing the spacecraft to land with more precision. Skip entry eventually allows the spacecraft to land precisely and steadily at the same landing site no matter when and where it returns from the moon.

“We extend the range by skipping backwards outward as there is little or no drag on the capsule. With little to no drag, we extend the range we fly,” Madsen said. “We use capsule lift to target how high we are, and therefore how far we skip.”

Although the concept of skip entry had been around since the Apollo era, it was not used because Apollo lacked the necessary navigational technology, computing power, and accuracy.

“We took a lot of that Apollo knowledge and put it into the Orion design with the goal of making a more reliable and safer vehicle at a lower cost,” Madsen said. “These are some of the things we’re doing that provide more capability than Apollo.”

lunar entry conditions

This graph shows how far the Orion spacecraft could be extended with a skip entry, compared to the range the Apollo spacecraft was able to fly with a direct entry. Credit: NASA

Skip entry will also allow astronauts to experience lower g-forces during lunar missions’ entry to Earth. Instead of one high-acceleration event, there will be two wheelie events four grams less each. The introduction of the skip will reduce the acceleration load for the astronauts so that they can have a safer and smoother flight.

Splitting acceleration events also splits heat, no small feat for a spacecraft that endures nearly 5,000 degrees.

The Fahrenheit scale is a temperature scale, named after the German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, and based on a scale he proposed in 1724. In the Fahrenheit temperature scale, the freezing point of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit and water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, a ch 180 degrees Fahrenheit, as It is specified at sea level and standard atmospheric pressure.

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