NASA Trains on the Starship Human Landing System Lift

27th Dec 2023
NASA Trains on the Starship Human Landing System Lift

Two NASA astronauts have recently undergone training using a replica of SpaceX’s Starship human landing system (HLS). The training was designed to acquaint astronauts with various facets of the HLS system, including the controls and latches of the lift and gate. This includes practicing these tasks while wearing their astronaut suits, which both astronauts donned during the training session.

The primary objective of the training

The training was conducted as a part of NASA’s initiatives for the Artemis program, aiming to achieve the historic milestone of landing the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface. The recent training involved two NASA astronauts, Nicole Mann and Doug “Wheels” Wheelock. 

Colonel Nicole Mann, a member of the United States Marine Corps, joined NASA as an astronaut in the 2013 NASA Group 21. She boasts 157 days of spaceflight experience during Expedition 68 on the International Space Station (ISS) and was also part of the SpaceX Crew-5 mission. 

On the other hand, Colonel Doug Wheelock, affiliated with the United States Army and selected as a NASA astronaut in the 1998 NASA Group, has accumulated 178 days in space. His spaceflight journey includes STS-120 and later Expedition 24/25 on the ISS, as well as being launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-19.

Starship flight tests

While NASA astronauts prepare for potential use of the Starship human landing system in the future, Starship has already undergone two flight tests—Ship 24 in April 2023 and Ship 25 in November 2023. 

Despite both flights experiencing failures, Ship 25 officially crossed the Karman Line, which marks the conventional boundary of outer space.  A third Starship test flight is slated for the first quarter of 2024, aligning with the upcoming crewed Artemis II mission set for a 10-day lunar orbit in November 2024. 

Additionally, Artemis III is currently planned to land astronauts near the lunar south pole in 2025.

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