NASA Artemis I Moon Rocket Launched After Many Delays
NASA launched the most powerful rocket ever built for a trip to the Moon on Wednesday, with a spectacular flash of light and sound marking the start of the space agency’s newest program, Artemis. The 32-story Space Launch System (SLS) blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 01:47 am (12:17 pm IST).
“Here we go,” tweeted the space agency.
Its centerpiece was the defunct Orion spacecraft that would later separate and complete a half-circle of Earth’s nearest neighbor, in the latest flight tests that should see the first woman and the first person of color touch the moon. land in the mid-2020s.
America last sent astronauts to the Moon during the Apollo era, from 1969-1972. This time it hopes to build a permanent presence — including a lunar space station — to help prepare for an eventual mission to Mars.
The launch took place despite technical issues that ate into the two-hour launch window that opened at 1:04 am (11:34 am IST).
Engineers were forced to temporarily halt the flow of liquid hydrogen on Tuesday night due to a leaking valve, although a team sent to the launch site resolved the problem an hour later.
Later, the space agency reported that the radar unit that monitors the rocket’s flight path had problems due to a faulty ethernet switch that needed to be replaced.
It was third time lucky for NASA after two previous launch attempts were canceled due to technical reasons. The launch was also delayed due to weather issues, including Hurricane Ian which hit Florida in late September.
‘I’m so happy’
About 100,000 people on the beach are expected to watch the launch of the rocket, which promises to light up the night sky.
Andrew Trombley, a space enthusiast from St. Louis, Missouri, had high hopes for a successful takeoff after several unsuccessful launches.
“I’ve been here a few times to watch this thing go up and get canceled, so, this is like, whatever, the third trip down here with this, so I’m happy to see it go,” said the network engineer.
“I was too young to go on the Apollo missions, so … I wanted to be here in person.”
Kerry Warner, 59, a grandmother and retired teacher who lives in Florida, was fired for the ride, which she said is “part of America and what America is all about.”
“Third time’s the charm. We hope so.”
on the far side of the moon
The Orion crew capsule was lifted by two boosters and four powerful engines under the main stage, which separated after only a few minutes.
After the final push from the upper stage, the capsule will be on its way, taking several days to reach its destination.
Instead of landing on the Moon, it will take up a distant orbit, traveling 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) across the far side — further than any other manned spacecraft to date.
Finally, Orion will begin the return leg of its journey. When passing through space, the heat shield of the cap will need to withstand half the temperature as the sun’s heat.
The mission will last 25 and a half days, with a collision in the Pacific Ocean on December 11.
NASA is banking on a successful mission after developing the SLS rocket for more than a decade. It will have invested more than $90 billion in its new moon system by the end of 2025, according to a public study.
Artemis 2 will involve a lunar flight with astronauts in 2024, while Artemis 3 will see boots on the lunar soil, as soon as 2025.
NASA named its lunar mission after the Greek goddess of the hunt, and the plan aims to return humans to the moon by 2025. The last time astronauts walked on the Moon was in 1972, as part of NASA’s Apollo missions. The Artemis mission eventually plans to establish an astronaut base on the Moon, ahead of long-term plans to send humans to Mars.