April 13, 2024

Artemis I: “Humanity finally returns to the Moon”

How did you pass the moment when the final seconds of the countdown rolled and the rocket took off?

My heart didn’t just skip, it jumped. The human race has finally returned to the moon. This time not in a race between East and West, but in a team effort. I am proud, happy and grateful that we are now embarking on this journey together and sustainably. Because we not only want to learn new things about the moon, but also a lot about our planet. A number of traces that are still identifiable on the Moon are no longer recognizable due to erosion. In the long term, it is also the first step to Mars. W: It’s the first time Americans have relied on a component that doesn’t come from the United States for such a large mission.

© German Aerospace Center (DLR) (details)

Walther Pelzer The graduate mechanical engineer has been a member of the board of directors of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) since 2018. He also heads the German Space Agency at DLR based in Bonn.

You mean “European Service Unit”. What exactly is it and why is it such a big deal?

It’s the kitchen, bathroom, storage, and power center of the Orion capsule all rolled into one. It contains the main engine and supplies power through four solar panels, regulates the climate and temperature in the spacecraft and stores fuel, oxygen and water supplies for the crew. It’s a major milestone for future astronaut exploration missions to the Moon, but also to Mars and beyond.

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So, without German engineering, the United States would not have been able to return to the moon?

I would say it more carefully. But yes: the environmental management mechanism is a mission-critical component. The fact that the United States is counting on us is a huge vote of confidence in the performance of the European space nations – especially in Germany. ESM is not called “Bremen” for nothing, because it is mainly assembled in Bremen at Airbus. And we can manufacture it competitively. If NASA is going to buy something similar in the United States, it will have to pay much more.