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Naval helicopters fly over a test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft and personnel involved in training activities in the Pacific Ocean in July 2023, in preparation for Artemis II. Teams from NASA, including the Artemis II crew, and the Department of Defense are training this month off the coast of San Diego to prepare to recover the astronauts and Orion when they return to Earth. Credits: NASA/Kenny Allen Media are invited to speak with the four Artemis II astronauts on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at Naval Base San Diego in California. The crew will fly around the Moon next year as part of NASA’s Artemis campaign, marking the first astronauts to make the journey in more than 50 years.
NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense are conducting training with the crew in the Pacific Ocean to demonstrate the procedures and hardware needed to retrieve NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Koch, and CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen after their approximately 10-day, 685,000-mile journey beyond the lunar far side and back.
The flight is the first crewed mission under NASA’s Artemis campaign and will test the agency’s Orion spacecraft life support systems needed for future lunar missions.
Attendees will be able to view hardware associated with the training, including a test version of Orion aboard the USS San Diego, and speak with other personnel from the agency and the Defense Department who are responsible for bringing the crew and the capsule to safety after the mission.
Media interested in attending must RSVP by 4 p.m. PST, Monday, Feb. 26, to Naval Base San Diego Public Affairs at email@example.com or 619-556-7359. The exact time of the planned afternoon Feb. 28 event is subject to the conclusion of testing activities.
Under Artemis, NASA will establish the foundation for long-term scientific exploration at the Moon, land the first woman, first person of color, and its first international partner astronaut on the lunar surface, and prepare for human expeditions to Mars for the benefit of all.
For more about NASA’s Artemis II mission, visit:
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Last Updated Feb 22, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
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NASA’s Josh Whitehead has a passion for systems engineering. He now helps lead the team developing the rocket that will fly the first crew to deep space since the Saturn V. The campaign name of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the Moon, also has special meaning for Whitehead. “I have a twin sister, and Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo. I’m like, hey, I’m a twin! How cool is that?”NASA/Sam Lott Launching a rocket to the Moon takes perseverance and diligence. Josh Whitehead – a world-class engineer, race-winning long-distance runner, and father – knows that it also takes a good attitude.
“Positive energies are vital, particularly when working through challenges,” Whitehead says. “Challenges are opportunities to learn and grow. There’s always more than one way; always more than one solution.”
Whitehead’s job as the associate manager for the Stages Office of NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket supports design, development, certification, and operation of the 212-foot-tall SLS core stage. The massive core stage with two propellant tanks that collectively hold more than 733,000 gallons of super-cold propellant is one of the largest cryogenic propulsion rocket stages.
Whitehead joined the SLS Program, based at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, early on during the COVID-19 pandemic. Complicating matters further, in June 2020, Whitehead was injured in a hit-and-run cycling accident so devastating that it separated his right shoulder and broke his back in three places.
Amid his necessary rehabilitation and surgeries, Whitehead learned to type left-handed and one-handed. Through it all, he was working to further the agency’s Artemis campaign and preparing for the first launch of the SLS rocket for Artemis I.
Now back to running and having participated in a local charity race every year since 2007, the avid runner and engineer will tell you that, like a recovery, the road to launch is not a sprint. It’s a cadenced effort as teams across the country worked toward a common goal. During his rehabilitation and path to run again, Whitehead and his team finished assembling the first SLS core stage and the successful eight-part Green Run test campaign of the entire stage at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, prior to the Nov. 16, 2022, Artemis I launch.
Whitehead and his team are now manufacturing and processing core stages for multiple Artemis missions, including Artemis II in 2025, the first crewed flight under Artemis that will test the life-supporting systems in the Orion spacecraft ahead of future lunar missions.
Whitehead holds multiple advanced degrees in engineering from Auburn University and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He got his start in the aerospace industry conducting subscale motor manufacturing tests for NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. From systems engineering supporting NASA’s Constellation Program and verifying and validating the solid rocket booster element in the SLS Program’s early days, to qualification activities and safety and mission assurance for the Artemis I flight, Whitehead has a passion for cross-discipline work.
“Being able to work systems engineering activities and multiple elements is all complementary. But the common thread is it’s about the people, the process, and the product,” he said.
SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with the Orion spacecraft, advanced spacesuits and rovers, the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, and commercial human landing systems. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single launch.
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Teams at NASA’s Stennis Space Center install a new RS-25 engine nozzle in early February in preparation for continued testing on the Fred Haise Test Stand. NASA is conducting a series of tests to certify production of new RS-25 engines for future (Space Launch System) missions, beginning with Artemis V.NASA/Danny Nowlin NASA will conduct an RS-25 hot fire Friday, Feb. 23, moving one step closer to production of new engines that will help power the agency’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket on future Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond.
Teams at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, are set to begin the second half of a 12-test RS-25 certification series on the Fred Haise Test Stand, following installation of a second production nozzle on the engine.
Teams at NASA’s Stennis Space Center install a new RS-25 engine nozzle in early February in preparation for continued testing on the Fred Haise Test Stand. NASA is conducting a series of tests to certify production of new RS-25 engines for future (Space Launch System) missions, beginning with Artemis V.NASA/Danny Nowlin Teams at NASA’s Stennis Space Center install a new RS-25 engine nozzle in early February in preparation for continued testing on the Fred Haise Test Stand. NASA is conducting a series of tests to certify production of new RS-25 engines for future (Space Launch System) missions, beginning with Artemis V.NASA/Danny Nowlin The six remaining hot fires are part of the second, and final, test series collecting data to certify an updated engine production process, using innovative manufacturing techniques, for lead engines contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3Harris Technologies company.
As NASA aims to establish a long-term presence on the Moon for scientific discovery and exploration, and prepare for future missions to Mars, new engines will incorporate dozens of improvements to make production more efficient and affordable while maintaining high performance and reliability.
Four RS-25 engines, along with a pair of solid rocket boosters, launch NASA’s powerful SLS rocket, producing more than 8.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff for Artemis missions.
During the seventh test of the 12-test series, operators plan to fire the certification engine for 550 seconds and up to a 113% power level.
“NASA’s commitment to safety and ‘testing like you fly’ is on display as we plan to fire the engine beyond 500 seconds, which is the same amount of time the engines must fire to help launch the SLS rocket to space with astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft,” said Chip Ellis, project manager for RS-25 testing at Stennis.
The Feb. 23 test features a second certification engine nozzle to allow engineers to gather additional performance data on the upgraded unit. The new nozzle was installed on the engine earlier this month while it remained at the test stand. Using specially adapted procedures and tools, the teams were able to swap out the nozzles with the engine in place.
Teams at NASA’s Stennis Space Center install a new RS-25 engine nozzle in early February in preparation for continued testing on the Fred Haise Test Stand. NASA is conducting a series of tests to certify production of new RS-25 engines for future (Space Launch System) missions, beginning with Artemis V.NASA/Danny Nowlin In early February 2024, teams at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, completed an RS-25 nozzle remove-and-replace procedure as part of an ongoing hot fire series on the Fred Haise Test Stand. The new nozzle will allow engineers to collect and compare performance data on a second production unit. The RS-25 nozzle, which directs engine thrust, is the most labor-intensive component on the engine and the hardest to manufacture, said Shawn Buckley, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RS-25 nozzle integrated product team lead.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has focused on streamlining the nozzle production process. Between manufacture of the first and second production units, the company reduced hands-on labor by 17%.
“The nozzle is a work of machinery and work of art at the same time,” Buckley said. “Our team sees this nozzle as more than a piece of hardware. We see the role we play in the big picture as we return humans to the Moon.”
With completion of the certification test series, all systems will be “go” to produce the first new RS-25 engines since the space shuttle era. NASA has contracted with Aerojet Rocketdyne to produce 24 new RS-25 engines using the updated design for missions beginning with Artemis V. NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne modified 16 former space shuttle missions for use on Artemis missions I through IV.
Through Artemis, NASA will establish the foundation for long-term scientific exploration at the Moon, land the first woman, first person of color, and first international partner astronaut on the lunar surface, and prepare for human expeditions to Mars for the benefit of all.
Last Updated Feb 22, 2024 EditorNASA Stennis CommunicationsContactC. Lacy Thompsoncalvin.firstname.lastname@example.org / (228) 688-3333LocationStennis Space Center Related Terms
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Credit: NASA/Brandon Hancock Matthew Ramsey is keenly aware of the responsibility he shoulders to ensure the agency’s missions to the Moon are safe and successful. As the mission manager for Artemis II, NASA’s first crewed mission under Artemis, Ramsey is charged with helping to define the requirements and priorities for the missions and certifying that the hardware and operations needed to support flight are ready.
“For me, it’s all about the crew and ensuring their safety as they venture to the Moon and come home,” said Ramsey. “Sending people thousands of miles from home and doing it in a way that sets the stage for long-term exploration and scientific discovery is an incredibly complex task.”
During the leadup to Artemis II, Ramsey is responsible for oversight of the daily preparations as NASA prepares to launch and fly the agency’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket with a crew of four inside the Orion spacecraft. He will adjudicate issues that arise in the weeks and months ahead of the flight test and serve as deputy of the Mission Management Team — a tiger team that forms two days before launch to accept the risks associated with the mission and make decisions during the flight to address any changes or concerns.
A native of Hernando, Mississippi, Ramsey pitched for the Mississippi State University baseball team before earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from the school.
“There are a lot of similarities between mission management and pitching,” he said. “You control many aspects of the tempo, and there’s a lot of weight on your shoulders.”
Ramsey began his career in the intelligence and defense sectors before joining the space agency in 2002 to work on guidance, navigation, and control for the X-37 Approach and Landing Test Vehicle. Later, he worked on the design of the Ares I and V rockets as part of NASA’s Constellation Program before transitioning in 2010 to the SLS Program in support of the chief engineer at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
During the Artemis I launch, Ramsey was the SLS Engineering Support Center manager at Marshall, coordinating across engineering teams to provide data and solutions to issues encountered during the multiple launch attempts. He then supported the Mission Management Team during Artemis I in an observational role, preparing for his position as Artemis II mission manager.
While NASA and its partners are preparing for Artemis II, work toward other Artemis missions is also underway. Ramsey also will serve as the mission manager for Artemis IV, the first Gateway assembly mission that also will include a lunar landing.
“With Artemis II on the horizon, most of my time is focused on making sure we’re ready to fly Reid, Victor, Christina, and Jeremy around the Moon and bring them safely home,” Ramsey said. “For Artemis IV, we’re in the mission concept-planning phase, establishing mission priorities and objectives and defining how we’ll transfer crew between all the hardware elements involved.”
As Artemis II nears, Ramsey is blending his operational experience and expertise in design, development, testing, and evaluation so that NASA is primed for what lies ahead: sending humans back to the Moon for the first time in more than 50 years and laying the foundation for future missions that will ultimately enable human exploration of Mars.
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All the major structures that will form the core stage for NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket for the agency’s Artemis III mission are structurally complete. Technicians finished welding the 51-foot liquid oxygen tank structure, left, inside the Vertical Assembly Building at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans Jan. 8. The liquid hydrogen tank, right, completed internal cleaning Nov. 14. NASA/Michael DeMocker As NASA works to develop all the systems needed to return astronauts to the Moon under its Artemis campaign for the benefit of all, the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket will be responsible for launching astronauts on their journey. With the liquid oxygen tank now fully welded, all of the major structures that will form the core stage for the SLS rocket for the agency’s Artemis III mission are ready for additional outfitting. The hardware will be a part of the rocket used for the first of the Artemis missions planning to land astronauts on the Moon’s surface near the lunar South Pole. Technicians finished welding the 51-foot liquid oxygen tank structure inside the Vertical Assembly Building at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans Jan. 8.
The mega rocket’s other giant propellant tank – the liquid hydrogen tank – is already one fully welded structure. NASA and Boeing, the SLS core stage lead contractor, are currently priming the tank in another cell within the Vertical Assembly Building area called the Building 131 cryogenic tank thermal protection system and primer application complex. It completed internal cleaning Nov. 14.
Manufacturing hardware is a multi-step process that includes welding, washing, and, later, outfitting hardware.The internal cleaning process is similar to a shower to ensure contaminants do not find their way into the stage’s complex propulsion and engine systems prior to priming. Once internal cleaning is complete, primer is applied to the external portions of the tank’s barrel section and domes by an automated robotic tool. Following primer, technicians apply a foam-based thermal protection system to shield it from the extreme temperatures it will face during launch and flight while also regulating the super-chilled propellant within.
“NASA and its partners are processing major hardware elements at Michoud for several SLS rockets in parallel to support the agency’s Artemis campaign,” said Chad Bryant, acting manager of the Stages Office for NASA’s SLS Program. “With the Artemis II core stage nearing completion, the major structural elements of the SLS core stage for Artemis III will advance through production on the factory floor.”
The two massive propellant tanks for the rocket collectively hold more than 733,000 gallons of super-chilled propellant. The propellant powers the four RS-25 engines and must stay extremely cold to remain liquid.
The core stage, along with the RS-25 engines, will produce two million pounds of thrust to help launch NASA’s Orion spacecraft, astronauts, and supplies beyond Earth’s orbit and to the lunar surface for Artemis III. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single launch.
Through Artemis, NASA will send astronauts—including the first woman, first person of color, and first international partner astronaut—to explore the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and to build the foundation for crewed mission to Mars. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with the Orion spacecraft, exploration ground systems, advanced spacesuits and rovers, Gateway, and human landing systems.
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