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Student reports - 2022 - Artemis 1

Launch Briefing

28.8.2022, Cosma Heckel

Today was the last day before the launch of the Artemis I mission, so everything was done that we didn't manage to do until now.

We got up at 8am today, packed all our stuff and left our vacation home at around 10am. Since the prices for hotels rise to unbelievable heights during the Artemis launch-window, we didn't have any accommodation for the launch-night. Nevertheless, to store our luggage safely, we drove to the vacation home of our team from Mexico, which is located far inland.


Arriving at the apartment (11am), the three from Mexico who were sleeping there had only just gotten up, being tired from all the extra preparation and travel. We stored the suitcases and waited for David (professor at TEC Monterrey), his students and then our members Alina Santander and Valeria Zafra. We filled the time with team building tasks and writing our reports.

Ken, a teacher from Washington City Schools and our friend, arrived around 1pm, while Alina joined us an hour later. Thus, Ken, Alina, Arthur and I drove together to the Titusville Mall to check the three of them in for the launch. To get there, we rode in Ken's Tesla Model 3, which is already 5 years old, but drives like a new car due to regular updates. This way, the aging of the driving performance is bypassed. I think that is a very sustainable solution.

When we arrived at the check-in at around 14:30, Ken and Alina had got their tickets without any problems, but Arthur had a little problem. However, this cleared up over the course of the day.

Our plan for tonight was to have a seafood dinner, after all our team members had arrived, to toast the launch and receive the briefing at the same time.

So, on the way back, we made a quick stop at Shiloh's Seafood Bar to reserve a few tables. Unfortunately, it was not possible to do so. We returned to Abraham's AIRBNB at around 4:00 pm, the same time as David and his students.

Finally, we were complete and could really get to know each other for the first time. It was very cool to finally meet everyone in person now, as we did many things together during this short evening. Since there was no room at Shiloh´s, pizza came for everyone at around 18:00. To be honest, this was a good replacement as it still allowed us to sit together and catch up.


After Valeria, the last missing team member, had arrived, the launch briefing could begin.
During this briefing, we discussed the procedures, the facts and the events that would be coming up in less than 12 hours. Ralf gave us a review of how all of this was able to be made possible and how much effort and accomplishment it took from everyone. With this launch, we are honoring all those who gave their lives to spaceflight. No matter on which continent or which country, they have accomplished great things and are an inspiration to many others.

In the briefing, we also assigned tasks to all of the team members. These included cameramen, interviewers, reporters, social media managers and photographers. These activities were each briefly rehearsed and everyone's priorities were set.

Lastly, Ralf presented the products of the last 2 years. During Corona, of the people present here, Valeria and Abraham were in Germany. Together we reconstructed and sprayed the Starship, modified the Mini Buggy with 3D parts and celebrated 50 years of Apollo 11.

To top it off, David and his students brought our merch. They were white t-shirts , printed with our mission logo. Dressed, we were not only a team, but also looked like one.


It was 9pm when the briefing was over. At 12 we planned to set off. That’s why we used the time until then to rest and get some sleep.

I went out to lie down on the terrace. It was raining. With a blanket, I made myself comfortable on the sofa, despite the almost 30 degrees. The rain was merely falling on the roof and I thought about all the things that were about to change. Back to the moon! It is like on the eve of the 21st of December 1968. I thought about many things, but again and again I came to the conclusion: many doors were going to open, doors that we should keep open, in contrast to the first return from the moon. The thousands of thoughts in my head were slowly drowned out by the sound of the rain and I fell asleep.


At 12, everyone was woken up. Long pants and shirts were put on. Everyone got into the car, packed with provisions. Exactly as discussed. Nobody said anything, because they themselves could not believe what was to come after getting out of the car. The engine started, the door closed, and we drove off.



The calm before the start

27.8.2022, Cosma Heckel

It was already half past 9 when I woke up, went to the kitchen and made myself some breakfast. Everyone had gotten up shortly before.

At around 2pm, 3 Mexican students arrived, who were also part of our group. So, we used the time until then to complete reports or do more paperwork. Jesco, Tara and Yvonne went to the beach and enjoyed the warm water. Arthur, Ralf and I continued to prepare.

When we got the news that they were now at the Titusville Mall at 1 pm, we got right into the car. During the 45 minute drive, Abraham, Ian and Turner checked in at the NASA-Admission.

The reunion with Abraham made all of us very happy, but likewise it was great to get to meet Ian and Turner.

Since the three hadn´t seen everything that we had seen before, we went on a little sightseeing tour. We visited the huge Blue Origin complex, the Kennedy Space Center, the SLS rocket that will fly to the moon the day after tomorrow, and the Redstone rocket.

Afterwards, we drove to our apartment, unloaded the suitcases and had a great reunion, because now also Yvonne, Tara and Jesco could welcome Abraham. Right after that we went to the beach two blocks away, so that the three could properly arrive for the first time. It was cloudy, but still tropically warm. The salt water of the Atlantic Ocean had a temperature of at least 30 degrees, so we took our time. After a few rounds of rugby and an attempt at surfing on a skimbord, we headed back home.

We now took the three to their apartment with a quick stop at Walmart to buy them mobile hotspot. After setting up the hotspot and visiting the apartment, Yvonne, Arthur and I drove back to our location.

Before that, some nice people on the beach had told us that there should be algae in the water tonight, which would glow blue. Unfortunately, this was not the case :( Let's see if it works tomorrow.

With that, the day had come to an end. I am already curious about tomorrow:)




Welcome to Cocoa Beach!

26.08.2022, Cosma Heckel

Someone shakes me gently. I turn on my other side and bury myself in the pillow. "Get up," it sounds softly. I sighed, lifted my head and opened my eyes, but squeezed them right shut again. It was bright. The sunlight was shining into our room, making it glow brightly. I got up and changed my clothes.

It was already 9:30 a.m. Everyone was in the living room, with homemade hot dogs in their hands. That was our breakfast for today, so I took one too. Then we got into the car and drove off. Today is the first day in Coca Beach, so we will have a look at the area after Corona and see what all has changed.


But first we drove to our future hotel, where we will sleep after the start. It has a beautiful outdoor area with pool, bar and beach. On the tour, we discovered a small mural depicting the launch of a Soyuz. This was very surprising, but also nice to see, as Korolyov also developed it.


We continued to Pier 1, which is located directly on Cocoa Beach. The sun was shining strongly, the air was humid. Hard to bear for a long time. The beach is large and grey-white, the sea winds warm and humid. Seagulls fly by now and then, looking for a few crabs.

Yvonne, Tara, Arthur, Jesco and I walked onto the pier and had a quick look around, as we had to go straight on. However, we will have more time to look at the beach later in the day.  Past dollar shops, Fish&Chips restaurants, Tesla Chargers, mangrove forests and swamps, we drove straight to Titusville along the highway. It's funny how much space there is here. Everything is built and laid out on a large scale.

After about 20 min we passed the Blue Origin base, on to the Kennedy Space Center. The turn-off is marked by a big KSC logo, but it's all the more recognizable because of the ticket and vehicle control, which looks like a crawler transporter (transports the rockets to the launch site).cAfter a few group photos we drove on and stopped at the Atlantis Museum. There was a replica of the Redstone rocket. Its 83 feet high, weighs 33 tons and flies on alcohol & liquid oxygen.  It flew the first US manned/ballistic space mission with Alan Shepard. In the process, she released the first US satellite, Explorer 1, into orbit. Thus, Alan Shepard is the American Gagarin. As we drove by, we spotted a space shop with a homemade SLS rocket. It was amazingly well built. After a short visit to the shop, we moved on.

Kennedy Space Center

We went to the Titusville Mall. In this mall you can find the registration for the Artemis launch. We were warmly welcomed and directed to Lynn Dotson and her colleague. Lynn works at NASA STEM-Stars and also has various tasks during the launch preparations. She also knows the head of HERC, which is a very cool coincidence. We will see her again at Banana Creek, our viewing point during the launch.

We checked in and got all the necessary information and materials regarding the launch. Among them: a badge, several magazines talking about the SLS rocket, stickers and patches + a small Orion capsule. Plus, access cards for the Kennedy Space Centre complex and more.   So, we had everything we needed. Now nothing could go wrong, except for the things we aren´t in control of.

Our next stop was Shiloh's bar. This grill restaurant provides a great view of the launch site 39b and the VAB. There we enjoyed a delicious and late lunch, as it was already 4pm. In between it rained heavily and thundered very loudly.

The last stop of the day was Walmart. This is a typical supermarket in the USA. There we bought supplies for the next days and especially for the launch.

This day ended with a visit to the beach in 30 degree water temperature, which was very pleasant by the way. I am already looking forward to tomorrow!




The first trip in 2 years
25.08.2022, Cosma Heckel

It was 1:20 o´clock when we arrived at the Berlin airport (BER).

We quickly got our suitcases from the car. Tara, Arthur, Jesco and I made sure they were secured while Ralf parked the car where it could stay for the next two weeks. The night air was pleasantly fresh and the night brightly lit. At first, I was astonished by the airport. Especially because I had not seen one for 2 years. There were still 3 hours until check-in. Tara, Arthur, Jesco and I used this time to explore the newly opened airport. I was surprised by the modernity of the general layout, especially because the construction of the airport had been delayed very often.

Jesco was able to get some sleep, which was unfortunately no longer possible after 4:30, because the check-in opened. The big suitcases were given to the airline, while we went to the security check together with our hand luggage. There, everything went well and only 10 min later we sat in a café and ate some breakfast. I chose a chocolate croissant. Since Ralf had taken a plane earlier, we had to say a quick goodbye.

We still had an hour, during which we slowly made our way to our gate. I used this time window to record the first part of the video blog.

At 8, boarding finally began. It felt like déjà vu as we walked along the plane's jet bridge. I can't even count many times I've done this before anymore. The pilot and co-pilot stood politely at the cockpit greeting each passenger. The pilot of our first flight introduced himself as Matthias, he was a very nice man. Following down the long corridor, Tara, Jesco and I made our way to row 16, with Arthur and Yvonne sitting directly behind us.


After 30 minutes, the plane began to move and just as it positioned itself to the flight path, it was silent. The turbines started and the plane slowly began to move. The engines became louder and louder, and the plane began to vibrate. At that moment Jesco turned to me, looked at me and said: "Here we go!“ Seconds later after reaching the required speed we slowly took off. A glow spread across Jesco's face, and he wasn't the only one. So, the AIRBUS A320NEO JET had taken off and was flying towards Munich. The flight lasted less than 55 minutes. However, we were still able to use it to get some sleep. Next stop: Munich

After Arriving in Munich, we first went through passport control. This also went very fast.
However, it got a little trickier after that, because Munich airport is much larger than the one in Berlin. Nevertheless, we found our gate, H14, without any problems. Now it was time to wait once again. We used the time to get some sleep, use the restrooms and to look around.
Eventually, our flight documents were checked again, until finally 11:55 the boarding for the flight UA-160 began.

We boarded the Boing 767-300/300ER. A large aircraft with 2 outside and 3 middle seats per row. This time Jesco and I stopped in row 24 and stowed our carry-on luggage. By now we have already remembered how that works




Day 0
24.08.2022, Cosma Heckel


The engine is humming, golden lights stretch along the horizon. We are driving 120 on the highway, all six of us in the minibus.

The dark blue sky , adorned with many bright dots, stretches from horizon to horizon. Hard to believe that one of them could be the Orion capsule in a few days. Today is day zero. Starting today, a journey begins, all the way to the moon and back. But before the largest and heaviest rocket worldwide takes off and flies to the moon, we first travel to America.

It is 10:32 as I look at my smartphone and rub my eyes, still sleepy from the last online preparations and the almost 5 hours of sleep. Moments later, thoughts flash into my head of things that should better have been done yesterday. Packing the luggage. That’s why Jesco´s, followed by my suitcase stood in front of the car around 12 o'clock. Now that the "big things" were done, it was time for the small things, which honestly took most of our time.

We had to pack cameras, charge their batteries and put them into our luggage. This selection was made up of 2 GoPros, three reflex cameras and a 360 degree cam. With that, capturing the rocket launch on camera is already assured;)

Next, Jesco and I got the task of packing 40 Star-ship rockets with all of its accessories. After counting them multiple times, they were complete, carefully stored and ready for takeoff.
Probably the coolest task on my checklist today was assembling a mini-rover. This model replicates, with a 1:10 ratio, the current rover that we use for training of my team, the Rovernauts.

It was already 21:30 when we quickly ate dinner and finally sat in the minibus (23:30). All six of us. After 2 hours we finally arrived at the BER. Now the adventure begins!

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