NASA Johnson Space Center receives Orion spacecraft training simulator

NASA is preparing astronauts for missions in the Orion spacecraft with the arrival of the spacecraft simulator at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The simulator allows astronauts, engineers, and flight controllers to train and practice for mission scenarios using Orion for future missions to the moon. Orion is the spacecraft that will be used for the first Artemis missions to the moon.

Inside the simulator, the interior is outfitted with the same displays seen in the actual Orion spacecraft and control systems and crew seats able to mimic what astronauts will experience when the Orion spacecraft launches. The simulator can also mimic what astronauts will feel on returning to Earth after the mission is complete.

The first astronauts to see the Orion simulator include Stephanie Wilson, Jonny Kim, and Randy Bresnik. Astronauts Wilson and Kim are among the 18 astronauts that have been named as part of the Artemis Team who are eligible to participate in Artemis missions to the moon. Bresnik isn't an eligible astronaut because he is currently the assistant to the chief of the astronaut office for exploration.

Artemis II will be the first mission to carry a crew, and NASA is targeting 2023 for launch. Orion will launch atop a Space Launch System rocket. Artemis II, much like early Apollo missions, won't place astronauts onto the moon. Instead, astronauts aboard Artemis II will travel to the moon and return to Earth. That test mission helps set the stage to return humans to the surface of the moon in 2024.

We know that one of the astronauts who will step foot on the moon will be a woman marking the first time a woman has been to the moon. SpaceX is also working on a larger spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to the moon and eventually to Mars, known as Starship. Recently a Starship prototype was lost during a high altitude test.