NASA astronauts sign their moon rocket

It’s certainly the least important part of their preparations, but this week the four Artemis II astronauts were happy to sign their names on parts of the launch vehicle that will launch them to the moon a year from now.

NASA astronauts Victor Glover, Reid Wiseman, and Christina Koch, and CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen, sign stage adapter for the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, earlier this week.

The stage adapter is the uppermost part of the SLS rocket and sits directly beneath the Orion spacecraft that will carry four astronauts to within about 80 miles of the lunar surface on the first crewed trip to the moon since the Apollo missions five decades ago.

During the launch of Artemis II, the stage adapter diaphragm will serve as a barrier to prevent harmful gases produced during launch from entering the spacecraft.

NASA

In the image above, you can see the exact location of the “Orion stage adapter” directly above the SLS rocket’s transient cryogenic propulsion stage. The adapter is five feet tall and weighs 1,800 pounds, which NASA says makes it “the smallest primary element of an SLS rocket.”

Like last year’s Artemis I test mission, the adapter will be discarded in the early stages of the mission and will fall back to Earth.

Glover, Wiseman, Koch and Hansen are now undergoing extensive training for next year’s 10-day mission, which will take them not only close to the lunar surface, but also farther from Earth than any human has ever been before.

In August, the four astronauts got their first up-close look at the actual Orion spacecraft that will take them on their epic journey.

A successful mission will pave the way for the first moon landing since 1972 when NASA plans to put the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface in the Artemis III mission, currently scheduled for 2025. The Artemis Program’s long-term goals include building a base on the moon for a long-term stay, exploring more of the lunar surface, and using the moon as a launch pad for the first manned mission to Mars.

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