Science

Artemis I finally has a valid launch date and it’s coming soon

NASA officials said Wednesday that the space agency continues to move forward with preparations for its massive SLS launch vehicle, which will carry the Orion spacecraft on top. Teams are now confident enough to set a launch date for the Artemis I mission: August 29th.

Artemis I will be the start of a huge project to send humans back to the moon. This first mission will not be manned. The mission of the spacecraft is to circle the moon twice before returning to Earth. The mission will mainly serve to test the capabilities of the two vehicles. If all goes well, a human flight around the Moon could take place in 2025 as part of the Artemis II mission.

Launching soon

After numerous technical failures, the rocket is finally ready for its first flight. According to the agency’s current plans, the launch vehicle and its capsule will be deployed to the Kennedy Space Center launch pad on August 18. Then NASA will be able to take advantage of three launch windows: August 29, September 2 and September 5.

To hopefully launch the mission within the allotted time, the final technical preparations must go smoothly. As with any rocket launch, the weather factor will also be important. At this time, tropical activity in the Atlantic Ocean is approaching its apogee. NASA is being very picky right now, the slightest danger that could put a mission in jeopardy would probably be enough to delay the launch date.

The launch times and duration of missions in France are as follows:

– 29 August: 14:33, 42 days, landing on 10 October.
– September 2: 18:48, 39 days, landing on October 11.
– September 5: 23:12, 42 days, landing on October 17.

An SLS rocket in the hangar prior to the launch of the Artemis I mission. Credit: NASA/Frank Michaux.

The SLS rocket and Orion capsule are currently inside the vertical assembly building at the Kennedy Space Center. While the engineers are working on the final tasks to complete the flight, it remains to activate the missile’s flight termination system. The latter will be used to destroy the vehicle if it deviates from its trajectory after launch. This activity is due to start on 11 August.

Once the flight stop system is activated (on batteries), NASA will have approximately three weeks to launch the rocket. If, for technical or meteorological reasons, the agency misses one of these three launch windows, the rocket will have to be returned to the assembly shop. If so, then a new launch attempt will most likely not happen until October.

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