Life Encapsulated: Inside NASA’s Orion for the Artemis II Lunar Mission

On NASA’s upcoming Artemis 2 mission, four astronauts will fly inside the Orion spacecraft and venture around the moon, becoming the first to lay eyes on our celestial neighbor at relatively close distance in more than 50 years.

Orion will be home to NASA astronauts Reed Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Koch, and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Jeremy Hansen during their 685,000-mile, approximately 10-day journey. They will live and work in Orion’s crew module while its service module provides the basic goods astronauts need to survive, including safe water to drink and nitrogen and oxygen to breathe.

Since astronauts will fly for the first time aboard Orion, Artemis II will include several objectives to verify many of the spacecraft’s life support systems operating in space for the first time. The crew will provide valuable feedback for future Artemis missions to the Moon.

Spacecraft life

The Orion’s cabin has 330 cubic feet of habitable space, giving the crew as much living space as two minivans. After their trip into space aboard NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket, the crew will store the Koch and Hansen seats until return day, giving them more room to move during the flight. The seatbacks of Wiseman and Glover, as captain and pilot respectively, will remain out but their feet will be stored. The Orion has approximately 60 percent more space than the Apollo command module’s 210 cubic feet.

What’s on the list?

Food scientists at the Space Food Systems Laboratory at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston work with the crew to pre-select their meals long before leaving Earth. Although they will not have the daily options that space station crew have during their expeditions, Artemis II astronauts will have a specific menu based on their personal preferences and dietary needs. Orion is equipped with a water dispenser and food heater to rehydrate and reheat food, and the crew will have designated meal times in their schedule for refueling.


Each astronaut will devote 30 minutes a day to exercise, reducing muscle and bone loss that occurs without gravity. Orion is equipped with a flywheel, a small device that attaches directly below the side hatch used to enter and exit Orion and will conveniently be used as a step when the crew enters Orion on launch day. A flywheel is a simple cable-based device for aerobic exercises like rowing and resistance exercises like squats and deadlifts. It works like a yo-yo, giving the astronauts as much payload as they put into it, maxing out at 400 pounds.

On the International Space Station, astronauts Many exercise machines Which combined weigh more than 4,000 pounds and occupy about 850 cubic feet. Although effective for space station crew members, Orion’s exercise equipment must accommodate more stringent mass and volume restrictions. The flywheel weighs about 30 pounds and is a little smaller than a handbag.

Keep it clean

The hygiene cabin includes privacy doors, a toilet, and space for the crew to bring their own personal hygiene supplies. Kits typically include items such as a hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and shaving supplies. Astronauts can’t shower in space, but they use liquid soap, water and no-rinse shampoo to stay clean.

When nature inevitably comes, crew members will use the Orion Toilet, the universal waste management system, a feature the Apollo crew did not have. It is almost identical to the version flying on NASA’s International Space Station, where the system collects urine and feces separately. The urine will be vented into the sea while the faeces are collected in a tray and safely stored for disposal upon return.

In the event of a toilet malfunction, the crew will be able to use collapsible emergency urinals, a system that collects urine in a bag and connects to a venting system to send the urine out to sea. With two different designs designed to accommodate both females and males, the bags hold about a liter of urine each. If the UWMS fails, the crew will continue to use the toilet to collect feces, just without the fan to help separate the feces.

medical care

In the event of minor medical needs during the mission, Orion will have a medical kit on board that includes everything from basic first aid items to diagnostic tools, such as a stethoscope and EKG, which can be used to provide data to doctors on the ground. The crew will also have regular private medical conferences with flight surgeons at Mission Control to discuss their health and well-being.

Catch some Shuteye

With a busy schedule, the Artemis II crew will have a full eight hours of sleep built into their schedule to ensure they are well-rested and can make the most of their mission. For most of the mission, all four crew members will sleep at the same time, strapping sleeping bags to Orion’s walls for a time.

keep in touch

Inside Orion, astronauts will use a handheld microphone and speaker or wear a headset to communicate with mission controllers, conduct health checks with flight doctors, and communicate with their families. The crew will also have tablets and laptops they can use to review procedures and upload entertainment before launch.

Artemis II will confirm that all Orion systems operate as designed with the crew on board in the actual deep space environment. The mission will pave the way for future missions on the Moon, including the first woman and the first person of color, establishing long-term capabilities in lunar science and exploration, and inspiring the next generation of explorers – the Artemis Generation.

(Tags for translation)Artemis

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