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NASA astronauts test SpaceX's elevator concept for the Artemis lunar lander

NASA astronauts test SpaceX's elevator concept for the Artemis lunar lander

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NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Doug “Wales” Wheelock participated in a recent test of a model of elevator A subscale of SpaceX's Starship human landing system that will be used for Artemis III and IV mission NASA on Luna. The Starship Human Landing System will carry two astronauts from the Orion spacecraft to lunar orbit on the surface, serve as a home for crew members who will stay for about a week on the Moon, and transport them from the surface back to Orion.

The elevator will transport equipment and crew between the spacecraft's habitable zone, located near the top of the lander, and the lunar surface, as they go out for a lunar walk. The test allowed the astronauts to interact with the design of the elevator system, serving as a functional demonstration of the hardware and providing the opportunity to receive valuable feedback from the crew's perspective.

The elevator model was built at SpaceX's facility in Hawthorne, California, and contains a large-scale basket section with working mechanical assemblies and interfaces for the crew to test. During the demonstration, NASA astronauts wore spacesuits that mimicked the suit's dimensions and movement restrictions a crew would face on the Moon. For Artemis III, the crew will wear new advanced spacesuits developed by Axiom Space.

The crew provided feedback on the elevator controls, such as gate locks, ramp deployment interfaces for entering and exiting the elevator basket, available cargo space, and dynamic operations as the basket moves along the vertical track system.

NASA is working to land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon through the Artemis program to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before and prepare to send humans to Mars. The human landing system is an important part of deep space exploration architecture, along with the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, spacesuits, advanced rovers, and the lunar orbiting gateway.

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