Last month, Shaun the Sheep returned home from his Artemis I mission to a hero's welcome before embarking on a celebratory post-flight tour, visiting space centres across Europe to meet many of the people who made his flight possible.
First stop was the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT), ESA’s newest facility and its first in the UK. Based at the Haaarwell Campus in Oxfordshire, ECSAT is home to ESA’s Moonlight initiative, which is enabling private space firms in Europe and Canada to offer a lunar telecommunication and navigation service by creating a constellation of satellites around the Moon.
Next up was Airbus in Bremen, Germany, where the vehicle that took Shaun to the Moon and back was built. The first European Service Module, ESM-1, was delivered to NASA in 2018 and integrated on the SLS rocket for Shaun’s Artemis I mission, launched on 16 November 2022.
The second ESM, sent from Bremen to Kennedy Space Center in 2021, is now being prepared for the Artemis II mission, which will take its first human crew around the Moon and back to Earth in 2024.
On this tour, Shaun took a peek at the third ESM in the Airbus cleanroom; ESM-3 will power the Artemis III mission, set to see the first humans step on the Moon since 1972.
Taking a short detour, Shaun popped into ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. It’s here that all ESA crew members undergo pre- and post-flight medical evaluations for long-duration space missions.
The main Mission Control centre for Shaun’s Artemis I flight was NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, but there are more two centres for operational expertise outside Houston. One is Lockheed Martin in Denver, Colorado, and the other is the Mission Evaluation Room (MER) at ESA ESTEC in the Netherlands, which Shaun also visited on his tour, meeting many of the people who made the mission possible.
The final destination for Shaun was ESA’s newly refurbished headquarters in Paris, France.
After presenting a summary of the Baaartemis mission to ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher, Shaun also met distinguished guests in the building’s new high-tech conference room.
After a very busy schedule, Shaun is now back with The Flock at Mossy Bottom Farm, but he indicated he’d like to ‘remain eligible for future flights’...watch this space!
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