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NASA: Liftoff of Artemis I

NASA: Liftoff of Artemis I

After two months of work and patience, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) successfully launched Artemis I. On Wednesday, November 16 at 1:04 a.m. EST, Artemis I launched from Pad 39B of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Finally, NASA has taken its first leap in a long journey back to the Moon.

What caused the delay?

Satellite image of Hurricane Ian. Credit: NASA
Satellite image of Hurricane Ian. Credit: NASA

NASA initially wanted to launch Artemis I on the 29th of August. But, they decided to scrub the launch due to problems with Artemis’ Space Launch System (SLS). They were having difficulties fixing the bleed system in engine #3 which caused hydrogen to leak. Furthermore, poor weather conditions also caused them to scrub other launches. On the 26th of September, Artemis went back to the Vehicle Assembly Building because of Hurricane Ian. In the end, expect to have cancellation, postponements, and delays when it comes to space travel. Because the machines needed for space travel are extremely complex. Thus, everything must be right for it to work.

What now?

Illustration of Artemis I SLS mission plan. Credit: NASA
Illustration of Artemis I SLS mission plan. Credit: NASA

The most powerful rocket in the world has shown the world its might. Artemis’ SLS went through a baptismal of fire. Because it was able to deliver the 7,574-kilogram Orion spacecraft into space. The SLS took its first steps and affirmed its capability for future launches with heavier payloads. Now NASA and its partners are combing through all the data they have gathered from the launch. This will provide crucial feedback on what technologies and practices did well and what needs improving.

Image of Artemis 1 OSA Secondary Payload Load - NEA Scout and LunarIC. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston
Image of Artemis I OSA Secondary Payload Load – NEA Scout and LunarIC. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston

On the other hand, Artemis’ Orion spacecraft is now conducting its 25-day uncrewed mission around the Moon. And as Orion travels through space it will be deploying ten small satellites (CubeSats). NASA and its partners outfitted Orion to carry 11-kilogram CubeSats with incredible sensors. These will help gather more data on the environmental conditions for further space travel.

Illustration of Artemis 1 communication and navigation milestones. Credit: NASA
Illustration of Artemis 1 communication and navigation milestones. Credit: NASA

Additionally, they will be testing Orion in the austere conditions of space. Having no passengers, Orion can perform these tests without risking any lives. As such, during its voyage, NASA will be testing its communications, propulsion, and navigation systems. Lastly, Orion’s return to Earth will finish its last test. And that is to demonstrate its capability to land back on Earth.

All of NASA’s testing on Orion provides a safety net for future Artemis missions. They did this by examining every aspect of space travel. From launching into space to landing back on Earth… NASA is doing its best to make the journey back to the Moon as safe as possible.

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What next?

For now, there will be a few major developments in its 25-day mission. You can still follow along with Orion’s journey by following NASA’s social media accounts. There, NASA gives updates on Orion’s progress.

Illustration of Orion entering back to Earth. Credit: NASA
Illustration of Orion entering back to Earth. Credit: NASA

But, save the date for the 11th of December. Because Orion will be landing back on Earth on that day. Again, as we have seen in the past 2 months, a lot of things can happen. So, prepare yourself for the possibility of Orion landing earlier or later than expected.

We rise together… back to the moon and beyond!

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