Joplin Artemis Party Held Although NASA Launch Was Cleaned Up | Local News

Although the inaugural launch of NASA’s Space Launch System was canceled Monday morning, rockets flew past downtown Joplin.

Air-launched rockets, that is.

With children taking turns jumping and landing on a crumpled 2-liter plastic bottle filled with air, a Nerf-like rocket, attached to an open pipe, shot through the air above the outdoor patio of the Creative Learning Alliance, eliciting gasps, laughter and applause from a large group of children and their parents.

It was just one of twelve hands-on space-related activities offered to kids of all ages at the downtown science center, though the scheduled 7:33 a.m. launch of the Artemis 1 rocket did not have place in Florida. The next possible launch date for Artemis is set for Friday morning. The next orbital window after that would open on Tuesday, September 6.

“I think it’s adults who are disappointed with the clean launch,” said Neely Myers, program coordinator for the learning center. “The kids are here having fun, and they don’t really see the difference.”

Several silver-zinc batteries from EaglePicher Technologies were displayed prominently on a table, available for everyone to pick up, look at, and learn more. At least two adults who approached the table were surprised to learn that the batteries were identical to those found inside the 322-foot-tall Artemis 1 rocket.

Jackie Kennedy, EaglePicher’s senior program manager, said the company’s batteries have not provided power to a crewed spacecraft like Orion since the Space Shuttle fleet was retired in July 2011. Although there have been crewed flights to the International Space Station by private companies such as SpaceX, EaglePicher does not supply batteries for Dragon capsules — SpaceX builds its own batteries.

Now that NASA is officially back in the crewed flight business, Artemis “is very exciting for us,” Kennedy said.

EaglePicher has four silver-zinc batteries on the Space Launch System rocket and four lithium-ion main power batteries on the Orion capsule, said Curtis Ware, senior project engineer at EaglePicher. The four SLS batteries power the rocket’s abort termination system. If an emergency occurred during launch, the batteries would set off tiny explosions that separated Orion from the rocket.

While the current Orion spacecraft is uncrewed — except for three mannequins and a stuffed Snoopy toy — the battery-powered EaglePicher spacecraft will eventually bring a crew of six to the space station in low Earth orbit, from return to the moon and even to Mars, a six-month journey.

EaglePicher, one of Joplin’s oldest and largest employers, has a long history of supplying batteries to NASA spacecraft, achieving more than 2.8 billion hours of zero-gravity battery cell operation without a single failure. .

Kennedy, who nearly attended Monday’s launch in Florida, said she was happy to attend the 7:30 a.m. party in downtown Joplin. An identical evening took place at 6:30 p.m.

“It’s fun to be here,” she said, “and see (everyone) having fun and wearing their NASA shirts.”

Many of these kids wearing NASA shirts were huddled around various hands-on activities related to science or space exploration. One of the biggest attractions was a Go1 model robot controlled by Robert Stokes of Carl Junction-based Stokes Educational Services. It demonstrated the flexibility of the robot and allowed children to control the robot.

Stokes demonstrated how the robot, named Sparks, could right itself if it suddenly fell. He hopes that a robot similar to Sparks will one day be carried inside an Orion spacecraft to the moon to help men and women explore the lunar surface.

“These kids,” Myers said, “have never been alive on a (crewed NASA) space mission. The last moonwalk was in 1972, that was before I was born, but I have had shuttle launches growing up. But with the launch of the Artemis program, “a whole new generation will now be introduced to space – and not just space, but the potential for deep space travel.

“It’s a really big deal.”

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