Wait a minute.
Image credit: Barbara David


In a post-flight analysis of the Artemis 1 uncrewed mission, NASA has identified more than 100 locations where ablative thermal protective material from the Artemis 1 Orion heat shield chipped away unexpectedly during reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

In classic “wait a minute” style, a NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report has been issued – “NASA’s Readiness for the Artemis II Crewed Mission to Lunar Orbit” – calling attention to this issue and others before sending off a human crew to circle the Moon.

Image credit: NASA OIG

Root cause

To ensure the safety of the crewed Artemis II mission, the newly-issued OIG report recommends the Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate:

  1. “Ensure the root cause of Orion heat shield char liberation is well understood prior to launch of the Artemis II mission.
  2. Conduct analysis of Orion separation bolts using updated models that account for char loss, design modifications, and operational changes to Orion prior to launch of the Artemis II mission.”

The report by the NASA OIG also notes that “human space flight by its very nature is inherently risky, and the Artemis campaign is no exception. We urge NASA leadership to continue balancing the achievement of its mission objectives and schedule with prioritizing the safety of its astronauts and to take the time needed to avoid any undue risk.”

Image credit: NASA OIG

Taking the heat

In earlier reporting, here’s my take on the situation, as posted on Space.com:

“NASA still investigating Orion heat shield issues from Artemis 1 moon mission” at:


For more information on the new IG report, take a look at Brett Tingley’s new story at Space.com – “NASA inspector general finds Orion heat shield issues ‘pose significant risks’ to Artemis 2 crew safety” at:


Also read this story by Eric Berger, senior space editor at Ars Technica titled “NASA says Artemis II report by its inspector general is unhelpful and redundant” at:


For a full read of this just-issued NASA OIG report, go to:


Orion heat shield features ablative material, called Avcoat.
Image credit: Lockheed Martin

High-speed return from lunar distance, the thermal protection system of Orion’s crew module must endure blistering temperatures to keep crew members safe. Measuring 16.5 feet in diameter, Orion’s heat shield is the largest of its kind developed for missions carrying astronauts.
Image credit: NASA

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