Today (August 29) at 8:33 a.m. Eastern time (15:33 Kyiv time), NASA launches the Artemis 1 mission to the Moon. It will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This is the first attempt to return to the moon after more than 50 years of absence.
The Orion capsule will fly to the Earth’s natural satellite without a crew. The journey will last 42 days, during which the spacecraft must enter lunar orbit, stay there for several weeks and return home. It will cover a total of 2.1 million kilometers and will return approximately on October 10.
The capsule should fall into the Pacific Ocean, provided it survives passage through the Earth’s atmosphere. According to scientists’ calculations, Orion’s heat shield will have to withstand a temperature of 2,760°C, as the capsule will crash into the atmosphere at a speed of 40,000 km/h.
The $23.8 billion Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will launch the capsule from Earth. This is the most powerful rocket ever created. With a thrust of 8.8 million pounds, it will be more powerful than SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy (5 million pounds). However, the future SpaceX Starship will beat this record – it will show 17 million pounds of thrust during its first launch.
This is currently “the only rocket that can get people to the moon,” says about Space Launch System head of NASA Bill Nelson.
Artemis 1 is a test mission before sending a human crew on such a journey. During it, scientists will observe how the spacecraft behaves and test a new spacesuit in which a mannequin will fly to the Moon.
“It will blaze a trail that people will follow on the next Orion flight, pushing the edges of the envelope to prepare for that mission,” says NASA about Artemis 1.
For the next mission Artemis 2 the human crew will have to fly around the satellite in the same way, and during Artemis 3 NASA will try to land a man and a woman on the surface of the moon. Currently, the second mission is planned for the end of 2024, and the third should take place in another year. In the future, the experience gained during the Artemis missions should prepare humanity for flights to Mars.
Updated at 16:04: Due to problems with the engine’s air conditioning, the launch was postponed to Friday.
NASA engineers hope to fix a problem with the air conditioning of one of the RS-25 engines (Engine 3) in the lower part of the main stage.
The next attempt is scheduled for Friday, September 2 at approximately 12:48 PM ET (7:48 PM Kyiv time). If this launch is successful, the mission will last 39 days and Orion will return to Earth on October 11. If the problem is not resolved by Friday, then a third launch window will open on Monday, September 5.
We hope that it will still be possible to watch the launch live on Friday. The broadcast should take place on the official YouTube channel of NASA: