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Space Launch System to Fly for First Time

via:凤凰网     time:2022/8/17 18:00:50     readed:75

10颗立方体卫星。图片来源:CORY HUSTON/NASA

Ten Cubesats. Photo credit: CORY HUSTON/NASA

Report from our correspondentAt the end of August, NASA's most powerful launch vehicle ever, the Space Launch System (SLS), will make its first test flight. The 98-meter-tall rocket will embark on a 42-day trip to the moon and back, carrying three "astronauts" -- three mannequins equipped with instruments.

The SLS is part of NASA's lunar landing program Artemis, which is expected to send astronauts to the moon as early as 2025, according to Science. While no human beings were aboard the SLS when it launched on August 29, it was accompanied by 10 Cubesats. Each satellite is about the size of a briefcase and can be used to probe the moon (several Cubesats will focus on lunar ice), asteroids and the deep space radiation environment.

As the launch nears, satellite-makers are worried that half of the satellites may not have enough power to power up their mission. The satellites, which have been stuck inside rockets for more than a year due to launch delays, are running out of battery power, and some cannot even start and deploy their solar panels, so they cannot be recharged.

"The longer you wait, the greater the risk." "Said Ben Malphrus of Morehead State University, principal investigator of the Lunar Observation Satellite, one of 10 Cubesats.

The 10 cubesats will be used to monitor satellite and rocket separations, study the effects of radiation on yeast, solar wind and magnetic fields, lunar ice, as well as imaging the Earth's plasma layer, testing a new infrared spectrometer, testing plasma thrusters, landing a miniature lander on the lunar surface, and flying to an asteroid using a solar sail. Of these, the batteries of five Cubesats cannot be recharged without being removed from the rocket. NASA engineers worry that charging the satellite's batteries inside the rocket could trigger an electrical discharge that could damage the rest of the rocket.

For example, a Cubesat called LunaH Map may have a 50 percent battery reserve, posing a major threat to successful mission completion because when battery power drops to 40 percent, the Cubesat won't be able to complete a series of initial operations and starts, and it won't be able to recharge without opening its solar panels.(Xu Rui)

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