The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the successful test of the Space Launch System spacecraft at the Mississippi Space Center.
Experts tested the central rocket unit, the largest rocket element NASA has ever built. Four engines ran for more than eight minutes.
Space Launch System – super heavy launch vehicle. 95 tons with the possibility of increasing up to 130 tons. The craft is designed for manned flights beyond low Earth orbit.
Rocket unit tests were conducted in preparation for the Artemis 1 mission. According to plans, NASA will send an unmanned Orion spacecraft on a test flight around the moon and back at the end of the year. In 2023, the manned mission Artemis 2 goes to the moon. Landing on the moon is planned for 2024 as part of the Artemis 3 mission.
At the beginning of last April, then US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on the commercial extraction of resources on the moon. The document, in particular, says the United States does not consider outer space a public domain. Roscosmos called Trump’s decree an attempt to “expropriate outer space.” Later, the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said that Russia had no intention of participating in the new moon race.
Rogozin previously promised a manned flight around the moon by 2024, and the landing of the first astronauts on it in 2030. Later, the landing date in Roskosmos’ plans was moved by one year, and the flyby – immediately for four years.
To fulfill the Russian plans, Roscosmos needs to acquire a new manned spacecraft and a launch vehicle. It was assumed that the lunar program would use the super-heavy Yenisei rocket, the development of which was supposed to be completed in 2028. However, in mid-December 2020, the RAS Space Council recommended that work on the rocket be postponed indefinitely.
The Soviet and Russian cosmonautics have not yet created a spacecraft for flights to the Earth’s satellite. The first flight of the promising device “Eagle” is scheduled for 2023.
- According to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, outer space is not subject to national appropriations. On the moon and other celestial bodies, it is forbidden to test weapons and carry out military maneuvers. At the same time, the countries participating in the treaty can explore and use outer space and the moon in accordance with international law. The treaty was originally signed by the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain. Subsequently, dozens of other countries joined them. However, Washington believes that this treaty only applies to interstellar space and not to the surface of the moon.
- In 1979, within the framework of the UN, an agreement was concluded on the activities of states on the moon and other celestial bodies, other than Earth. The document stipulates equal rights for all states to explore celestial bodies and does not allow the extension of their sovereignty. Neither Russia nor the United States are parties to the agreement.