Load cells and space rockets: we finally have lift-off!

Published On: November 16 2022

If you’re an avid reader of our blogs here at the Load CellS hop, you know that we’ve been following the progress of NASA’s Artemis 1 space rocket.

After no less than three aborted take-off attempts (due to technical issues, a fuel leak and a tropical storm), the 100 metre tall Space Launch System topped with the Orion capsule finally lifted off from Florida at 06:47 GMT (01:47 local time) on Wednesday 16 November 2022.

The plan is for the capsule to orbit the moon and return in around 26 days’ time, when it will splash down in the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of California at San Diego. It’s a total journey over 1 million miles, and it couldn’t have happened without load cells.

The constant use of load cells helped the rocket system take those first steps from first assembly in the hanger to the journey to the launch pad itself. More details in our blogs here:

Putting men (and women) on the moon

The Space Launch System (SLS) has taken almost ten years to create, and cost NASA a cool $20bn (£17bn).

However, there is no crew on board the capsule this time. This launch is a test run for the planned return of astronauts to the Moon’s surface in 2025. It’s been a long time coming too; December 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the last mission to land men on the Moon’s surface, Apollo 17.

As the BBC news website commented:

“When Gene Cernan and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt stepped off the Moon to leave for home, no-one could have imagined it would take a half century to produce another rocket and capsule system capable of visiting Earth’s satellite.”

The 2025 crew will include the first woman to step onto the moon, along with the first person of colour.

Tracking Artemis in the UK

We may be a long way from the shiny screens and high tech of the Cape Canaveral mission control, but the UK is playing a vital part in tracking the location and speed of the Orion capsule. The Goonhilly Earth Station sits on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall, and is part of a network of deep space antenna feeding data back to NASA. We love the fact that the huge dish that picks up the signal from the capsule is nicknamed Merlin!

Load cells in space exploration

Artemis is not the only project from NASA that involves the use of load cells. Check out our other blogs below, or call us to discuss your latest projects and load cells requirements.

Other projects from NASA using load cells