NASA’s Artemis 1 launched successfully early Wednesday morning, the first step in humanity’s historic return to the Moon.
NASA described the launch of the Space Launch System (SLS), which carries the capsule of the Orion spacecraft, as the beginning of “a new chapter in human lunar exploration.”
At approximately 1:47 a.m., the Space Launch System announced that the SLS lifted off successfully from Launch Complex 39B in Florida, beginning a complex multi-week process.
“The primary goal of Artemis I is to comprehensively test embedded systems prior to crewed missions by operating the spacecraft in a deep space environment, testing Orion’s heat shield, and recovering the crew module after reentry, descent, and splashdown,” NASA said in a statement. statement.
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Within minutes, the rocket reached several key milestones, which were widely applauded by the crew and NASA supporters.
Viewers were able to watch the rocket radiate across the night sky as it slowly disappeared from view, its various components detaching from the main rocket to allow for deep space travel.
About two minutes after launch, NASA’s Rachel Kraft said the rocket successfully completed center main engine cutoff and center stage separation, where “the center stage was separated from the interim cryogenic propulsion stage and the spacecraft space Orion”.
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The rocket will seek to achieve other milestones amid the historic flight, including the disposal of the service module fairing, the deployment of Orion’s solar arrays and other maneuvers.
The Artemis 1 mission is intended to fully test and demonstrate “Orion systems in a spaceflight environment and ensure safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery prior to first flight with crew on Artemis II.”
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The rocket launch was originally scheduled for September, but was delayed due to Hurricane Ian.
The mission duration is expected to last 25 days and 11 hours, with the rocket traveling more than 1.3 million miles in that time.
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The rocket and the three test dummies on board are expected to return to Earth and touch down on December 11, 2022.