NASA is preparing for the Artemis lunar launch later this month
NASA is gearing up for a new era of lunar exploration as the launch of the Artemis I mission nears. Before finally returning humans to the moon for the first time since the Apollo missions, Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight that will orbit the moon to test technology, including NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. With launch slated for later this month, NASA teams are working on final testing and preparations for the mission.
The launch is scheduled for Monday, August 29, during a two-hour launch window that begins at 8:33 a.m. ET. If weather or other issues mean the launch needs to be delayed, there are other launch opportunities in September on the 2nd and 5th days of that month. The SLS will lift off from Launch Complex 39B (LC-39B) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
With the current launch schedule, the SLS rocket along with the Orion crew capsule (full of data-collecting astronaut dummies) would perform a 42-day mission, during which the rocket would traverse the Earth’s atmosphere before being released. The Orion craft would orbit Earth before orbiting the Moon, collecting data, then returning to Earth and crashing into the ocean on October 10.
NASA has confirmed that the activities that need to be done before launch are ahead of schedule. “As NASA’s first Artemis I launch attempt nears, teams are ahead of schedule performing final checks and shutdowns 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 complete the installation of thermal blankets on the interim cryogenic propulsion stage around the stage adapter of the launcher. Technicians also replaced the flight doors in the engine section of the rocket’s core stage. Final fence inspections are complete on these sections and they are ready for flight. »