Artemis I departed for launch to the moon and back, NASA says

The Artemis I mission is ready to launch.

This is the result of NASA’s flight readiness exam, which was conducted on Monday. The review was an in-depth assessment of the readiness of the 322-foot-tall (98-meter-tall) stack, made up of the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft, currently sitting on the Kennedy’s launch pad. NASA Space Center in Florida. .

The Artemis team is targeting its first two-hour launch window from 8:33 a.m. ET to 10:33 a.m. ET on Monday, August 29. There are backup launch windows on September 2 and September 5.

The “go” following the flight readiness exam is a positive sign that things are on track for the mission, but there are still factors over the next week that could impact when it will take off, including bad weather.

Very little remains on the to-do list after the rocket’s previous launch pad tests during the wetsuit rehearsal, which simulated every stage of the launch without lifting off. There remains an open element that the team will test on launch day, said Mike Sarafin, NASA’s Artemis mission manager.

The hydrogen start, used to thermally condition the engines, did not occur during the last wetsuit rehearsal, so this process is now part of the launch countdown. This test will take place during a “resting point” before the final countdown, said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, launch director for Artemis I at Kennedy Space Center.

The stack of rockets arrived on the launch pad on August 17 after a 6.4-kilometer journey aboard one of NASA’s giant Apollo-era exploration robots from the Vehicle Assembly Building – just like the shuttle missions and Apollo Saturn V rockets once did. .

The uncrewed Artemis that I will launch for a mission that will go beyond the moon and back to Earth. Once launched, the spacecraft will reach a deep retrograde orbit around the moon, traveling 1.3 million miles (2.1 million kilometers) in 42 days. Artemis I will dive in the Pacific Ocean off San Diego on October 10. Orion’s return will be faster and hotter than any spacecraft has ever experienced on its way back to Earth.

The Orion spacecraft will travel further than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown, reaching 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) beyond the far side of the moon, according to NASA.

There are no humans on board, but Orion will carry 120 pounds (54.4 kilograms) of memorabilia, including toys, Apollo 11 artifacts and three mannequins.

Sitting in Orion’s commander’s seat will be Commander Moonikin Campos, an adapted dummy who can collect data on what future human crews might experience while traveling on the moon. The model will wear the new Orion Crew Survival System suit designed for astronauts during launch and re-entry. The suit has two radiation sensors.

This mission will launch NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the Moon and land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface by 2025 – and eventually make way for exploration human from Mars.

Artemis I will also perform a number of science experiments, some of which were set up once the rocket and spacecraft arrived on the launch pad.

This week, the Artemis team will once again open the hatch to Orion to install a plush Snoopy toy, which will serve as the mission’s zero-gravity indicator. Once the spacecraft reaches the microgravity environment of space, Snoopy will float through the crew pod.

Bob Cabana, the associate administrator at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC, reflected on the Apollo 13 launch as a young midshipman at the US Naval Academy.

“I never dreamed that I would end up being an astronaut, much less the director of Kennedy Space Center or in the position I currently hold,” Cabana said. “I’m a product of the Apollo generation and look what it’s done for us. And I can’t wait to see what comes from the Artemis generation because I think it’s going to inspire even more than Apollo. It was gratifying to be able to see all of this work during today’s review and know that we are ready to do it.”

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