Ohio gets a glimpse of Artemis I Orion before it undergoes testing for space


Jordan Laird - Ashland Times-Gazette The Columbus Dispatch (TNS)



The Artemis I Orion is scheduled to rocket through outer space next year. But first, the space capsule had to travel through sprawling farmland in northern Ohio.

The NASA spacecraft made its way Tuesday morning through Richland, Huron, Erie and Sandusky counties aboard a 135-foot flatbed truck from Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport to the space agency’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, where it will remain for four months of testing.

It took some doing: NASA worked with FirstEnergy and other local companies to raise, move or remove more than 700 utility lines to make way for the spacecraft. Trees and branches also were trimmed and traffic lights at three intersections were moved during transit.

The caravan of vehicles — which included Ohio State Highway Patrol, local police and sheriff’s deputies, utility trucks and a NASA and Lockheed Martin contingent — left Mansfield just after 7:30 a.m. and arrived in Sandusky a just after 11 a.m.

The Orion and its escort traveled north on state Route 13, skirted around Norwalk, and made its way through Milan before traveling west on Mason Road to reach Plum Brook Station.

“I’m surprised it’s coming through our little town,” said Jill Cumston, of Milan, who came out to view the procession in front of Edison Elementary School in Milan.

What NASA estimated would be a six-hour trek took the Orion and its large escort a little over three hours.

“It’s good,” NASA public affairs specialist Jimi Russell said. “It means we get it off the road earlier, get it out of people’s way earlier.”

While the route was not released by NASA for security purposes, hundreds of Ohioans came out to witness the historic caravan’s journey. Some clearly had an inside tip.

The parking lot at Burky’s Farm Market was filled with about 70 people, including Amish students from two one-room schoolhouses, when the Orion capsule passed by.

Leon Burkholder, the owner of the grocery store near the intersection of U.S. Route 224 and Route 13 where traffic lights were temporarily moved, was contacted by ODOT in December to ask if its crews could use his facilities. Burkholder, in turn, told members of his Mennonite community.

“The truck driver honked and waved and the kids loved it,” he said.

A similar scene occurred in front of Edison Elementary in Milan.

“It was cool. I was excited about both [the spacecraft and the Fox 8 television helicopter over head],” said 7-year-old student Veda Mirabal.

NASA’s Aero Spacelines Super Guppy plane brought the Orion to the Mansfield airport on Monday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Artemis I will be the second planned flight of the unmanned Orion spacecraft scheduled for November 2020.

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Jordan Laird

Ashland Times-Gazette The Columbus Dispatch (TNS)

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