NASA says it’s “on track” for the maiden launch of its mega moon rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday, November 14.
The update on the Artemis I mission comes in the same week that the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will head back to the launchpad following several failed attempts to get the vehicle airborne over the summer when technical issues and Hurricane Ian disrupted plans.
NASA is currently aiming to launch its next-generation rocket during a 69-minute window that opens at 12:07 a.m. ET on November 14.
The launch promises to be quite a spectacle as the 98-meter-tall rocket will create around 8.8 million pounds of thrust as it lifts off. That’s 13% more power than the Space Shuttle and 15% more than the Saturn V rocket that powered the Apollo lunar missions five decades ago.
If the Artemis I mission manages to get away during the proposed launch window, the SLS rocket will propel a crewless Orion spacecraft toward the moon where it will perform a fly-by before returning about 25 days later with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on Friday, December 9.
A successful mission will pave the way for Artemis II, which will take the same route but this time with astronauts on board.
After that, attention will shift to the highly anticipated Artemis III mission, which will land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface in a voyage that will also mark the first astronaut landing since the final Apollo mission in 1972.
The early Artemis missions are set to usher in a new era of space exploration, with NASA planning to build a moon base for long-term astronaut stays on the lunar surface. It’s also hoped the moon presence will serve as a stepping stone for the first crewed missions to Mars, possibly in the late 2030s.
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