Although Luxembourg became one of the eight founding members of the Artemis Accords--part of the wider “Artemis” programme, dubbed the moon-to-Mars mission--it will not be involved in the Artemis 1 mission.
“The Artemis Accords integrate very well with the efforts Luxembourg has been making, both nationally and internationally, to support the peaceful exploration and sustainable utilisation of space,” said economy minister Franz Fayot (LSAP) during the International Aeronautical Congress (IAC) following the signature in 2020.
That signing session--on 13 October 2020 in Washington DC during the 71st IAC--was not followed by any specific collaboration. "Discussions are continuing and these collaborations are not set up overnight," said the economy ministry and the Luxembourg Space Agency, when asked at the end of July.
The launch of all the superlatives
Luxembourg intends to collaborate, later on, in areas that interest it such as "resource exploration, mobility and surface operations, and energy", said Fayot in 2020. Those areas that will only be covered from Artemis 3 in 2024.
The mission that will launch right next to SpaceX's rockets is characterised by superlatives. The Space Launch System (SLS) will be the biggest rocket ever launched, going further than any craft built to carry humans and ever launched (16,000 kilometres further). The capsule--Orion--will break the record for the longest time in flight without docking at a landing point (42 days), and will return to Earth faster (and safer) than any other so far (at 40,000km/h until the three parachutes bring it back to 32km/h to land in San Diego Bay).
The launch is scheduled for this Monday 29 August between 14:00 and 16:00 Luxembourg time.
No Europeans until Artemis 3
The first Artemis mission will not carry humans, but three dummies installed in the capsule. The first two, made of epoxy resin and with female bodies, Helga and Zohar, will be equipped with 10,000 sensors to measure the effects of radioactivity. Zohar will also wear an anti-radiation waistcoat made by StemRed, an Israeli company.
But the most closely watched dummy will be "Commander Moonikin Campos”--named after Arturo Campos, who helped bring Apollo 13 safely back to Earth. He is installed in the cockpit and fitted with the future orange suit that should protect future astronauts from radiation.
Orion's pressurised cabin will also carry out four experiments as part of the "Biology Experiment 1", using plant seeds, fungi, yeast and algae.
The second Artemis mission, in May 2024, will be half the size, with four astronauts, three Americans and one Canadian. And it is only for the actual arrival on the Moon that European and Asian astronauts will also be part of the journey, in 2025. Two of them will have the privilege of spending six and a half days on the Moon.
This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.