NASA to launch Artemis 1 in preparation for return to the moon

Nathan Turoff, Features Editor

In the early morning hours on Monday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will launch the first integrated rocket test of its new Orion Spacecraft, which will one day return humans to the moon, 50 years since mankind last set foot on our astronomical roommate.

Between 8:33 a.m. and 10:33 a.m. EST, Artemis I, an unmanned Orion spacecraft, is scheduled to launch for an orbit around the moon before returning to Earth. It will launch aboard the Space Launch System (SLS), which is NASA’s brand-new rocket system designed to take humans beyond Low Earth Orbit and is referred to as “the most powerful rocket in the world,” according to NASA.

The SLS accelerates through the atmosphere faster than a bullet
An artist’s mockup of the SLS Launch, courtesy of NASA

The Orion spacecraft is the crew capsule of these new extraplanetary missions and is designed to take humans to the moon and beyond. According to NASA, this will be the furthest any spacecraft designed for human travel has ever flown, as it will be orbiting the moon from tens of thousands of miles away.

This mission will take several weeks to complete and will be the longest a human spacecraft has stayed in space without a Space station. The Command Module (CM) of the Orion spacecraft will eventually return to Earth in October, splashing down in the ocean like the CM’s of old.

This rendering shows the NASA-built CM attached to the ESA-built ESM in orbit around the Earth
Artist rendering of the Orion Spacecraft in Earth Orbit, Courtesy of the European Space Agency (ESA), who designed and built the European Service Module (ESM)

Speaking of the old CMs, The Orion spacecraft itself is much more reminiscent of the spacecraft used in the Apollo missions that previously took humans to the moon than the relatively recent Space Shuttle. Both feature a CM in front, supported by a Service Module (SM) in the back.

The homages don’t end with the design of the spacecraft. The name of the Artemis program is synonymous with Apollo Program, as Apollo and Artemis are twins in Greek mythology, in addition to being the God of the Sun and Goddess of the Moon, respectively.

More information regarding the launch, the mission details, program goals and more can be found here


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