ESA engineers test equipment for Artemis moon mission


The European Space Agency has been testing equipment that will be used during the upcoming NASA Artemis moon missions during low gravity test flights.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is also contributing the service module for the Orion spacecraft being used for Artemis. The service module supplies power and propulsion to Orion.

ESA is also supplying the Lunar Equipment Support Assembly (LESA) which has been tested during low-gravity parabolic flight.

The LESA investigation is testing various transport carrier prototypes on wheels to assist Artemis astronauts during moonwalks. The mobility of these carriers, designed to transport equipment and tools, was evaluated along a 4m (13ft)  path inside the aircraft.

The parabolic test flights were flown In April by the ESA, along with the French space agency CNES and the German Aerospace Center DLR. The campaign consisted of three flights, each featuring 31 parabolas, allowing scientists to replicate the gravitational forces of both the Moon and Mars.

During those 93 parabolas, the gravity experienced by the crew was reduced to one-sixth to simulate lunar gravity or one-third to mimic Martian gravity .

Under the watchful eye and guidance of ESA astronaut and spacewalk trainer Hervé Stevenin, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who was one of the pilots of the spacecraft, couldn’t resist a quick try during a break – the pilots rotate every few parabolas.

LESA previously tested equipment underwater during the NASA-NEEMO 23 mission in 2019. Led by ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, astronauts lived and worked underwater for nine days inside Aquarius, the world’s only undersea habitat, and tested a set of geological sampling tools and the LESA support trolley to be used during future missions to the Moon.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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