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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.

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.”

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