Raumfahrt - Startvorbereitung von NASA Artemis 3-Update-2


Space Lab® LEAF Experiment Selected for Artemis III Lunar Mission

LEAF β Payload Concept
Space Lab® announced that the company has been selected to develop LEAF, a plant science experiment for NASA’s Artemis III Lunar mission. Artemis III will bring humans to the surface of the moon for the first time in this century. The Artemis III Deployed Instruments (A3DI) call solicited instrument suites to conduct high-priority science investigations that can be uniquely accomplished by human deployment of payloads on the surface of the Moon.  LEAF, which stands for Lunar Effects on Agricultural Flora, will study how the Lunar environment affects the germination and growth of plants that may be used to feed astronauts of the future. Human nutrition and life support (carbon dioxide removal, oxygen production, and water purification) provided by space agriculture will enable long-duration human exploration of the moon and beyond. Plant biology research on the Lunar surface is needed to understand the effects of partial gravity and space radiation on crop physiology and to demonstrate the potential for sustained, off-planet propagation.
The LEAF β (“LEAF Beta”) payload will protect plants within from excessive Lunar sunlight, radiation, and the vacuum of space, while observing their photosynthesis, growth, and responses to stress. The experiment includes a plant growth chamber with an isolated atmosphere, housing red and green varieties of Brassica rapa (Wisconsin Fast Plants®), Wolffia (duckweed), and Arabidopsis thaliana. By bringing seedling samples back to Earth, as part of Artemis III, the research team will apply advanced system biology tools to study physiological responses at a molecular level. Only one other payload has studied plants on the moon; the 2019 Chinese Chang’e 4 mission provided a picture of a 4-day old cotton sprout then suffered thermal control failure. The Lunar Effects on Agricultural Flora (LEAF) research will provide the first, comprehensive assessment of organism-wide effects of the Lunar environment, reducing risks for sustainable off-planet crop production and bioregenerative life support. Space Lab Vice President, Christine Escobar, stated “This research will be a pivotal step toward understanding how we might use agriculture in space to support human crew, paving the way for sustained Lunar exploration and even missions to Mars.”  ​

The LEAF team includes Principal Investigator Christine Escobar, Space Lab CEO Adam Escobar, Space Lab Mechanical Engineer Madison Jones, and space biologists from NASA Kennedy Space Center (Dr. Aubrie O’Rourke, Dr. Gioia Massa, and Dr. Raymond Wheeler), University of Colorado at Boulder (Dr. Barbara Demmig-Adams), Purdue University (Dr. Marshall Porterfield), USDA (Dr. Gayle Volk), La Trobe University (Dr. Mathew Lewsey), and University of Adelaide (Dr. Jenny Mortimer). Space Lab is a small business in Boulder, CO, that researches and develops technology for Earth-independent space habitation and exploration.  Escobar stated, “We create tools and resources that people need to live and work in space sustainably, so that they can explore further and stay longer. We consider ourselves space habitat outfitters, developing sustainable solutions for humanity’s greatest journey.”
Quelle: Space Lab Technologies, LLC
Update: 11.06.2024

Astronauts test SpaceX Starship hardware and spacesuits for Artemis 3 moon mission

The test "confirmed that the amount of space available in the airlock, on the deck, and in the elevator, are sufficient for the work our astronauts plan to do."


Axiom Space astronaut and director of human spaceflight Peggy Whitson (L) and NASA astronaut Douglas Wheelock wear pressure garments to remove heat and provide protection underneath their Axiom Space-designed spacesuits during a test on April 30, 2024 at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.(Image credit: SpaceX)

Come 2026, NASA plans to land humans on the moon for the first time since 1972. Times have changed, as can be gauged from the new rockets, spacecraft and spacesuits. 

To prepare for the Artemis 3 moon-landing mission, in late April two astronauts donned Axiom Space's new spacesuits and for the first time tested out a mock version of the vehicle that will get them to the moon.

Scientists and engineers say the test — the first of its kind since the Apollo era — provided feedback on how well the spacesuits, being built by Axiom, worked with a test version of SpaceX's Starship Human Landing System (HLS), NASA's vehicle of choice to ferry astronauts to and from the moon during the Artemis 3 mission. They were able to gauge the layout of the HLS, including its layout, physical design and clearances, according to a NASA statement.

The three-hour test, which was carried out at SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California, was also useful to judge the flexibility of the spacesuits, and the ease of getting in and out of them before stowing them in the airlock with minimal assistance. 

Two astronauts, Axiom Space's Peggy Whitson and NASA's Doug Wheelock, donned spacesuits in a full-scale mockup of the airlock that is perched on Starship's airlock deck. Each spacesuit also included a full-scale "backpack" model of the portable life support system, according to a statement by Axiom.

During the test, the astronauts interacted with a control panel in the airlock to ensure the controls were within reach and could be activated while wearing gloves, NASA said. They also practiced using a test elevator, which will take astronauts and their equipment from the Starship deck to the moon's surface for moonwalks during Artemis program missions.

"Overall, I was pleased with the astronauts' operation of the control panel and with their ability to perform the difficult tasks they will have to do before stepping onto the moon," Logan Kennedy, the lead for surface activities in NASA's HLS Program, said in the NASA statement. "The test also confirmed that the amount of space available in the airlock, on the deck, and in the elevator, are sufficient for the work our astronauts plan to do."


Astronauts Wheelock and Whitson tested the agility of the spacesuits by conducting movements and tasks similar to those necessary during lunar surface exploration on Artemis missions, such as operating Starship's elevator gate. (Image credit: SpaceX)

In March last year, NASA and Axiom revealed a prototype of the spacesuit, the Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit (AxEMU), which is being designed to be worn by astronauts both in-flight and on the moon. The company is beyond the preliminary design review point with NASA and will enter a critical design review phase later this year, Axiom said in its statement.

"Integrated tests like this one, with key programs and partners working together, are crucial to ensure systems operate smoothly and are safe and effective for astronauts before they take the next steps on the Moon," Amit Kshatriya, NASA's Moon to Mars program manager, said in the NASA statement.


Wheelock and Whitson conducting mission-like maneuvers in the full-scale build of the Starship human landing system's airlock. (Image credit: SpaceX)

In April, Axiom tested one of the unoccupied spacesuits in NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, for which the company added weights to the suit to mimic the lunar environment, where gravity is just a sixth of Earth's. Soon, an astronaut will don the suit for the first test run in the water, the company said in its latest statement.


An unoccupied Axiom Space spacesuit in NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. (Image credit: Axiom Space via X)

Meanwhile the astronauts' ride to the moon, Starship, is being developed by SpaceX to be fully reusable to aid economically feasible trips to the moon and eventually Mars. On Friday (June 7), the company moved closer to that goal with a successful fourth test flight that ended in smooth water landings for both the vehicle's Super Heavy booster and Starship itself.

Humanity's return to the moon, however, is now expected to occur no sooner than September 2026, after NASA delayed its touchdown plans from the originally targeted landing in late 2025. Issues with the Orion spacecraft's heatshield, life support systems and an electrical system in the crew abort system have contributed to the delays.

"As we prepare to send our friends and colleagues on this mission, we're committed to launching as safely as possible," Jim Free, NASA's associate administrator, had told reporters during a media teleconference in January. "And we will launch, when we're ready."

Quelle: SC


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