NASA Successfully Launches Moon Rocket On 26-Day Lunar Mission

NASA Successfully Launches Moon Rocket On 26-Day Lunar Mission

Update (0715ET):

Two hurricanes, several technical issues, and two months later, NASA launched the Artemis I mission early Wednesday from its  Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. 

“[F]or the Artemis generation, this is for you,” NASA’s launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson said as she gave the go-ahead for liftoff at 0148 ET. 

NASA’s Space Launch System, or SLS, the most powerful rocket in the world, has catapulted the uncrewed Orion capsule into space and embarked on a 26-day mission around the moon before returning to Earth. 

If Artemis 1 mission is successful, which would end with the Orion capsule splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 11, then Artemis 2 and 3 flights will follow. Artemis 2 is scheduled sometime in 2024. That mission will propel four astronauts around the moon. Then in 2025, Artemis 3 could include a return of humans back to the lunar surface. 

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After three delays, NASA confirmed a new launch window for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, an uncrewed Orion spacecraft, for Wednesday morning. 

The Artemis 1 rocket launch was scrubbed in late August (read: here) and early September (read: here) due to a liquid hydrogen leak at an interface between the SLS and mobile launcher at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

NASA appears comfortable with the next launch attempt, with a two-hour window beginning at 0104 ET Wednesday. 

If the launch goes to plan, it will be the first flight of the SLS and send the unmanned Orion Spacecraft around the moon. 

“I feel good headed into this attempt on the 16th,” Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager at NASA headquarters in Washington, said during a press briefing on Sunday. 

“The team is moving forward as one unit,” Sarafin added. “We’ve just got some work to do.”

Besides prior leak mishaps, NASA outlined Hurricane Ian also delayed timelines. 

“Engineers previously rolled the rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) Sept. 26 ahead of Hurricane Ian and after waving off two previous launch attempts Aug. 29 due to a faulty temperature sensor, and Sept. 4 due to a liquid hydrogen leak at an interface between the rocket and mobile launcher. Prior to rolling back to the VAB, teams successfully repaired the leak and demonstrated updated tanking procedures. While in the VAB, teams performed standard maintenance to repair minor damage to the foam and cork on the thermal protection system and recharge or replace batteries throughout the system.”

If all goes well, the Artemis 2 mission could propel four astronauts on a flyby mission around the moon in 2024. Then by 2025, Artemis 3 mission would allow for the first crewed moon landing on the moon

Watch Launch Live Here: