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Visit inside NASA’s Michoud where they build the rocket and parts for the Artemis lunar missions

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Time is running out for the Artemis I mission to return to the Moon, and a NASA facility in the New Orleans area played a role in the return to space.

WGNO visited this “rocket factory”, Michoud’s assembly facility to learn the role Michoud played in this very important lunar mission.

This is an important milestone for NASA with the launch of Artemis I on August 29 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Currently, Michoud Assembly Facility is building the rocket and its components for Artemis II, III and IV, which will send astronauts to the moon.

Not since 1972 has an astronaut set foot on the moon. With the Artemis mission, NASA will make its triumphant return.

“All built here from the welding site, they are built, tested and shipped to Kennedy Space Center,” said Jennifer Boland-Masterson, director of Boeing production operations at Michoud.

Lonnie Dutreix, Director of NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility, said: “Michoud’s main role is that we built the main stage of Artemis. The challenges were to have the installation and tooling modified to build a rocket for the first time.

Currently, in this “rocket factory”, Boeing and Lockheed Martin are building the necessary components for Artemis II, III and IIII.

“We built the launch abort system and the crew and service modules,” said Joe Arves, Lockheed Martin’s deputy chief engineer for the Orion program.

The Orion spacecraft consists of modules that will hold the astronauts inside.

“We have a launch abort system to send astronauts to safety in the event of a catastrophic event,” Lockheed Martin’s Tim Livingston said.

As we continued the tour, NASA engineers showed us the Space Launch System which includes the liquid tank domes, Orion modules and crowd pleaser – the 212ft core stage that will be used in Artemis II.

NASA engineers say these Artemis missions launch us into the future.

“We want to have inflatable habitats on the moon, to reside on the moon. It’s going back to the moon, but how do you live there? I always think of the movie ‘The Martian’ with Matt Damon,” said Lonnie Dutreix.

The reason NASA eventually wants to have housing on the moon is so it can be used as a “base” to send materials and astronauts from there to Mars.

For this current mission, the launch of Artemis, I will have no crew on board. This is more of a test mission. It will circle the moon and then return to Earth, and is expected to take around 42 days to do so.

Artemis II is tentatively scheduled for 2024, during which the crew will go into space to learn the maneuvers. Next, Artemis III is tentatively scheduled for 2025 and will include a moon landing.

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