NASA’s Artemis rocket to take Utah satellites on moon mission
NORTH LOGAN, Utah — NASA’s most powerful rocket to date, Artemis, is sitting ready on a Florida launchpad.
Blast-off is scheduled for Monday and when it speeds to the moon it will take a Cache Valley company’s technology with it.
Space Dynamics Laboratory at the Utah State University campus is known for its satellite technologies.
Some of the lab’s work will be deployed into the moon’s orbit with missions that will help get astronauts back up there and beyond.
Artemis is being prepared for launch at Kennedy Space Center and excitement is building over NASA’s return to the moon and beyond.
Tim Neilsen, a program manager at SDL, said next week’s launch is a big deal for him and hundreds of others at the lab.
“Absolutely, yeah, we’ll be watching the launch very closely,” he said.
The main mission is to prove the ability of the Orion spacecraft that sits atop the rocket to take humans to the moon. There will also be much more going with it.
“So this is a model of a 6U CubeSat. This gives you an idea of the size of each of the 10 CubeSats being dispensed by Artemis,” Neilson explained.
Five of those CubeSats will have SDL’s deep-space radio known as IRIS, a technology that has become much smaller over the years, and better.
“You couldn’t pack so much technology into such a small cube here. But with this, we’re able to send a large volume of data down to the ground,” he said.
One of those satellites will help look for evidence of water and another will map the moon’s craters.
The NEAscout will use a solar sail to encounter near-earth asteroids and then there’s BioSentinel that will take a look at deep-space radiation.
Neilson said, “It’s really a biological experiment that will help them better understand how it affects humans that are up on orbit, possibly going to the moon, possibly going to Mars someday.”
All of these missions and others are building a foundation for future manned exploration.
“It takes a lot of people to bring together a big project like this and we’re glad to be a part of it,” he added.
Each of those small satellites will use SDL’s technology to communicate with mission control and send back large amounts of data.
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