A significant lunar mission is one step closer after NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket returned to the launch pad on Tuesday night, August 19.Around 10 p.m. EDT, the massive Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket and its Orion spacecraft launched on Artemis 1, an unmanned test mission, to a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center (0200 GMT Wednesday, Aug. 17).
From the KSC’s Vehicle Assembly Building, the Orion, which is loaded atop the rocket, started its 11-hour voyage. Approximately 1 to 2 miles (1.6 to 3.2 km/h) per hour (1.6 to 3.2 km/h) must be travelled by the crawler transporting the Artemis 1 hardware to Launch Pad 39B. On NASA’s website (opens in new tab), NASA TV, and the NASA app, you can watch the deployment live while it is happening (opens in new tab). At 3 p.m. EDT, NASA’s livestream started (1900 GMT).
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The unmanned mission, which won’t launch before August 29, will test the Orion spacecraft’s systems in preparation for future human flights by taking it around the moon. There will be numerous webcasts of the research and other technology on board the expedition in between. As early as 2024, NASA wants to launch the crewed Artemis 2 mission to the moon’s orbit. The Artemis 3 landing mission is scheduled for 2025.
ARTEMIS I UPDATE: The rollout of @NASA_SLS & @NASA_Orion to Launch Pad 39B has now moved up to tomorrow, the evening of Aug. 16, ahead of the targeted Aug. 29 launch. Stay tuned for more information as well as ongoing coverage. pic.twitter.com/28kRuwB4pN
— NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems (@NASAGroundSys) August 15, 2022
The rocket was launched by NASA two days early than expected. The final significant task before the rocket was shut down and the final access platforms at the VAB were withdrawn was the testing of the flight termination mechanism, the agency reported on its Artemis blog(opens in new tab). The rollout is anticipated to take between 8 and 11 hours, depending on the weather, the state of the roads, and other technical issues, but NASA has not provided a comprehensive schedule.