They recently marked the 50th anniversary of the world’s first-ever successful space mission.
But NASA officials have another reason to celebrate, this week, after confirming that the Orion crew capsule is officially complete.
It will now be ready to tests and preparations for the 2020 lunar orbit timeline and a crewed launch two years afterwards.
Vice President Mike Pence made the official announcement at NASA headquarters in Florida on Saturday afternoon.
Pence was joined on stage by Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin and Rick Armstrong, son of Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong.
Thanks to the hard work of the men and women of NASA, and of American industry, the Orion crew vehicle for the Artemis 1 mission is complete and ready to begin preparations for its historic first flight,’ said Pence.
Artemis 1 will launch NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket around the Moon to test the system and pave the way for landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon in five years, as well as future missions to Mars.
Engineers recently completed building and outfitting the Orion crew module at Kennedy Space Centre.
The underlying structure of the crew module, known as the pressure vessel, was manufactured at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and shipped to Kennedy, where teams have integrated thousands of parts into the crew module and conducted tests to certify all of its systems for flight.
Once the two modules are joined, engineers will install a heatshield backshell panel on the spacecraft and prepare it for a September flight inside the agency’s Super Guppy aircraft to NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio.
Testing at Plum Brook will ensure the joined modules can withstand the deep space environment.
When testing in Ohio is complete, the spacecraft will return to Kennedy for final processing and inspections.