Skip to main content

NASA gets ready for Artemis lunar launch later this month

NASA is getting ready for a new era of lunar exploration with the approach of the Artemis I mission launch. Ahead of eventually returning humans to the moon for the first time since the Apollo missions, Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight which enters orbit around the moon to test out technology including NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. With launch scheduled for later this month, NASA teams are working on final testing and preparations for the mission.

The launch is planned to go ahead on Monday, August 29, during a two-hour launch window which begins at 8:33 a.m. ET. If weather or other issues mean the launch has to be delayed, there are further launch opportunities in September, on the 2nd and 5th day of that month. The SLS will liftoff from Launch Complex 39B (LC-39B) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Related Videos
A view of Moonikin “Campos” secured in a seat inside the Artemis I Orion crew module atop the Space Launch System rocket in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 3, 2022.
A view of Moonikin “Campos” secured in a seat inside the Artemis I Orion crew module atop the Space Launch System rocket in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 3, 2022. NASA

With the current launch schedule, the SLS rocket along with the Orion crew capsule (filled with data-collecting astronaut dummies) would perform a mission lasting 42 days, in which the rocket would pass through Earth’s atmosphere before being jettisoned. The Orion craft would orbit around the Earth before entering orbit around the moon, collecting data, then returning to Earth and slashing down in the ocean on October 10.

NASA has confirmed that activities that have to be performed before the launch are ahead of schedule. “As NASA’s first launch attempt for Artemis I approaches, teams are ahead of schedule to complete final checks and closeouts of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida,” NASA wrote in an update.

“Teams are retracting the VAB platforms that provide access to the rocket and spacecraft after engineers completed installing thermal blankets on the interim cryogenic propulsion stage around the launch vehicle stage adapter. Technicians also replaced the engine section flight doors of the rocket’s core stage. Final closeout inspections are complete on those sections and they are ready for flight.”

Editors' Recommendations

NASA map shows where you can see a solar eclipse across the U.S.
Using observations from different NASA missions, this map shows where the Moon’s shadow will cross the U.S. during the 2023 annular solar eclipse and 2024 total solar eclipse. The map was developed by NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS) in collaboration with the NASA Heliophysics Activation Team (NASA HEAT), part of NASA’s Science Activation portfolio.

Some of the most fascinating astronomical events to see from Earth are solar eclipses, when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun and blocks out some or all of the sun's light. The resulting darkness during daytime is fascinating and can lead to some stunning views -- though, for safety reasons, you should never look directly at the sun and should use a tool like a pinhole camera to observe eclipses instead.

However, these eclipses happen on a rather complex schedule related to the orbit of the moon, so exactly when and where to see an eclipse can be hard to track. To help with this, NASA has created a map of the U.S. showing when and where you can see a solar eclipse in 2023 and 2024.

Read more
A small, fuzzy dwarf galaxy in our neighborhood captured by Hubble
UGCA 307 hangs against an irregular backdrop of distant galaxies in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The small galaxy consists of a diffuse band of stars containing red bubbles of gas that mark regions of recent star formation, and lies roughly 26 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Corvus. Appearing as just a small patch of stars, UGCA 307 is a diminutive dwarf galaxy without a defined structure — resembling nothing more than a hazy patch of passing cloud.

This week's image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows a galaxy in our backyard, cosmically speaking, taken as part of a project to image nearby galaxies. Galaxy UGCA 307 is located 26 million light-years away in the constellation of Corvus, or The Crow, a small constellation visible from the southern hemisphere which was documented as far back as 1,000 years BCE.

There is just a small cluster of stars within this galaxy, as it is a type called a dwarf galaxy. These are defined as galaxies with just a few billion stars, which sounds like a lot until you compare it to the hundreds of billions of stars that are found in our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Read more
NASA picks a commercial partner to visit the far side of the moon
Rendering of Firefly’s Blue Ghost lunar lander delivering NASA’s LuSEE-Night radio telescope to the far side of the Moon.

NASA has big plans for the moon. From sending the first crewed mission to land on its surface in 50 years to setting up a space station in orbit, the agency has multiple missions planned for exploring our planet's satellite. These include partnerships with a number of private companies as well as NASA-developed projects, such as under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services, or CLPS, program which will contract out the transportation of small payloads to the moon.

This week, NASA announced it has selected the company Firefly Aerospace to develop a commercial lander for the far side of the moon. The lander, called Blue Ghost, will be used to deliver several NASA payloads to the moon, including a radio observation mission which is placed on the far side of the moon to minimize the radio noise coming from Earth. This natural radio quiet zone will let the Lunar Surface Electromagnetics Experiment-Night (LuSEE-Night) telescope detect faint radio waves from an early period of the universe known as the cosmic dark ages.

Read more