NASA share the preparation ahead of Artemis I's moon launch

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Artemis-I, which is NASA’s latest mission to the Moon, will kick off the first of many missions aimed at returning humans for the first time since 1972’s Apollo 17. On Monday, at around 1.30 pm BST, the US space agency will launch the new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which will take the NASA-built Orion capsule, with the European-built service module that includes Orion’s engines, towards the Moon.

The UK has been a key player in the Artemis programme as part of its involvement in the European Space Agency.

However, Britain’s smaller space firms have also played a critical role in this programme, according to Mr Morris, the UK’s National Space Champion.

He said: “The UK will play a key role in this mission.

“Businesses all across the UK will be involved in building the service module and habitation module of a new space station to orbit the moon, generating economic benefits and high-skilled jobs demonstrating the UK’s prominence and prestige in the International space programme.

While the UK wasn’t a major player in Monday’s launch specifically, it is making vital contributions to the Lunar Gateway, an orbiting space station currently being developed as part of the Artemis programme.

Another British firm, Thales Alenia Space UK will provide the refuelling module on the Gateway, which will support future lunar missions.

When asked whether the UK’s space firms will work closer with NASA and other space agencies in the future, he told Express.co.uk: “They do now actually, we’ve got quite a lot of UK’s small SMEs that work with NASA and do supply chain work for them.”

As the UK’s Space Champion, Mr Morris assists British space firms in growing and contributing more to the economy.

He said: “I believe that the smaller SMEs, that range from small businesses all the way through to the universities working with the space industry in the supply chain is worth probably at least half as much as the 16-20 billion that’s been floated as the contribution to the global space industry.

“Even though we are a small financial contributor, we’re actually a lot more than that when you take into account the SMEs, the universities working with intellectual property rights.

“We are in a very good position at the minute, despite what’s going on globally.

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“I believe we’ll double within 12 months I’m absolutely certain of that.”

He noted that by creating the position of the UK space minister, the Government could help double the UK space industry’s size.

A key goal of the latest test flight will be to test that the heat shield on the “Orion” space capsule is capable of surviving atmospheric re-entry.

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