*The new Artemis I launch target is Sunday, 4 September 2022 (at 4:17am AEST).
NASA is preparing its second attempt to launch its Artemis I mission.
The mission is currently scheduled to launch on Sunday 4 September 2022 (at 4.17am AEST) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA.
Artemis I will be an uncrewed 37-day mission to travel to and orbit the Moon before returning to Earth for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean in mid-October.
NASA’s Artemis I is the first of three increasingly complex missions in the Artemis program, which is aimed toward a human return to the Moon in the middle of this decade.
Australia’s national science agency CSIRO manages the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC), which will support the entire Artemis I voyage from launch to splashdown.
There will be several crucial mission moments, including the deployment of a small fleet of miniature satellites – called cubesats – that CDSCC will also support with tracking and communications.
CSIRO Executive Director, Professor Elanor Huntington said CSIRO was proud to be supporting NASA's return to the Moon.
"Australia was there for the first Moon landing and CSIRO is excited to be there for when NASA lands the first woman and the first person of colour on the moon in the 2020s.
"CSIRO's long-standing relationship with NASA stretches back more than 60 years, creating breakthrough solutions from science, and fuelled by our shared ambition to push the boundaries of imagination to benefit life back on Earth.
"Our expert team at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, and their sister Deep Space Network stations located in Spain and the USA, will provide around-the-clock coverage of the mission," said Professor Huntington.
Important upgrades to equipment and the large antennas at CDSCC have been a crucial part of NASA’s plan to prepare for the Artemis program.
CSIRO has a long history supporting spacecraft tracking and communications:
- Since the early 1960s, CSIRO’s Parkes radio telescope, Murriyang, has supported space missions: from the Mariner 2 mission to Venus, and to more recent missions including Voyager II crossing into interstellar space.
- In July 1969, NASA tracking stations in Canberra and Western Australia, along with the support of CSIRO’s Parkes radio telescope, Murriyang, returned data, voice communications and the historic TV images of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon.
- CSIRO manages deep space tracking stations in Australia for NASA and the European Space Agency: NASA’s Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, and ESA’s New Norcia station in Western Australia.
- CSIRO’s Parkes radio telescope, Murriyang, also provides ground station support for commercial lunar landings. For example, CSIRO has signed a five-year agreement with Houston-based aerospace company Intuitive Machines to support multiple lunar missions, including their first flight under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.
Glen Nagle from Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex is available for interview.
Available visual assets include:
- B-roll and stills of CDSCC, Parkes and Apollo 11
- NASA Artemis I multimedia assets
- ‘What is spacecraft tracking?’ animation