The goal of the Artemis mission is to send astronauts back to the moon and beyond. The first stage of the mission, Orion’s uncrewed flight test, will be tracked by volunteers across the world, including private citizens.
The selected participants across the world come from different backgrounds and locations, including five international space agencies, an academic institution, nine commercial companies, a nonprofit, and two private citizens, according to NASA.
The 18 volunteers were able to participate by responding to a “Request for Information” released by NASA in August on a no-exchange-of-funds basis.
“We received dozens of calls from antenna owners and operators around the world asking, ‘How can we get involved?'” said John Hudiburg, SCaN’s mission commitment manager. “This was our answer – show us what you can do while supporting the next big thing in human space exploration.”
These volunteers will utilize their respective ground antennas to track and measure changes in the radio waves transmitted by Orion and will determine if they can receive the spacecraft’s signals in the first place.
Once Orion returns to Earth from its flight, the data collected will be analyzed by NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program. If the antennas are successful, NASA says the antennas and supplemental data could be used to build tracking measurements of future missions beyond the moon.
“We are grateful for these contributions from fellow explorers everywhere,” said Badri Younes, deputy associate administrator and SCaN program manager. “NASA does what it does on behalf of all humanity.”
Artemis I is targeted to launch on Nov.14 after three previous launch dates were scrubbed due to weather conditions and technical difficulties.