NASA Astronauts Test SpaceX Moon Elevator

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Doug Wheelock participate in recent test of a sub-scale mockup elevator for SpaceX’s Starship human landing system that will be used for NASA’s Artemis III and IV missions to the Moon | Image by SpaceX

NASA astronauts have tested a new elevator system for use in upcoming manned missions to the moon.

NASA announced on December 21 that two of its astronauts, Nicole Mann and Doug Wheelock, had participated in a test of a “sub-scale mockup elevator” that is part of SpaceX’s Starship human landing system. The elevator will transport astronauts from the Orion spacecraft in lunar orbit to the lunar surface, serve as a habitat for them while they are on the surface of the moon, and then return them from the lunar surface back to Orion.

During the test, the astronauts wore spacesuits that simulated mobility challenges that they might face on the moon’s surface.

“The suited crew provided feedback on elevator controls, such as gate latches, ramp deployment interfaces for moving into and out of the elevator basket, available space for cargo, and dynamic operations while the basket moved along a vertical rail system,” according to a press release.

The crew of the Artemis III mission, wearing “advanced spacesuits” produced by Axiom Space, will operate this elevator as part of the mission for their weeklong stay on the moon.

“NASA is working to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon under Artemis to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before and prepare to send humans to Mars for the benefit of all,” reads the press release from NASA. “The human landing system is a critical piece of deep space exploration architecture, along with the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, advanced spacesuits and rovers, and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon.”

Scientists have been preparing since the Apollo program five decades ago to send astronauts back to the lunar surface. NASA recently named the four astronauts, one of whom is from North Texas, who will man its upcoming Artemis II mission to orbit the Moon, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

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