CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – An ongoing NASA moon-orbiting mission known as Artemis I began Wednesday, and Missouri had a vital responsibility in making that happen.
NASA launched a spacecraft earlier this with three test dummies aboard, an effort to conduct research that could help put astronauts back on the moon for the first time since the end of the Apollo program nearly half a century ago.
The rocket in NASA’s latest mission is using eight different types of batteries from EaglePicher, an energy manufacturing company based in Joplin, Missouri. The batteries are meant to provide power during certain stages of the mission.
According to EaglePicher, the company’s batteries are being used for rocket boosters, the actual rocket itself and a vehicle that will travel around the moon.
“Two are actually on the booster and two are actually on the rocket, and they’re flight termination system batteries. We also have the four main batteries on the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle,” said Jackie Kennedy, Senior Program Director at EaglePicher via a news release.
The rocket is expected to make a wide orbit around the moon and splashdown on Earth in nearly three weeks. It’s the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that could enable human exploration on the moon and Mars.
NASA hopes to send four astronauts around the moon in 2024 and land humans on the lunar surface again as early as 2025. Ultimately, NASA hopes to establish a base on the moon, which could possibly lead to astronauts on Mars by the late 2030s or early 2040s.
“It was pretty overwhelming,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson via the Associated Press. ”We’re going out to explore the heavens, and this is the next step.”
Missouri has helped NASA in various capacities over the last few decades, including the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft, InSight Lander and Perseverance rover, the latter two that are currently on the surface of Mars.