Finally, Artemis 1 is heading for the moon. The launch of the long-delayed moon rocket by NASA occurred in the early hours of Wednesday morning, lighting up the night sky with some of the most powerful rocket engines.
The Orion module took a peek back at Earth and returned a beautiful glimpse of our home planet. The mission will endure for many weeks as it cycles around the moon.
It required numerous attempts to launch Artemis 1 because of recent weather-related and technical issues. After many years of delays in the design and production phases, it finally happened. But the Space Launch System (SLS)’ flawless performance made it all worthwhile.
There are 16 cameras in the Orion module, some of which are intended for moon observation while others are for tracking the spaceship (both inside and out).
NASA deployed the exterior cameras to scan Earth shortly after launch, and the results are seen here. Orion is seen as being just a few thousand miles from Earth, although it is moving at a speed of more than 5,000 miles per hour.
NASA has a webpage that records Orion’s location and status in real-time if you want to keep a close eye on it.
With a flight time of 42 days, Artemis 1 will be the longest trip for Orion in the whole Artemis Program. It is an unmanned mission. NASA did not integrate a landing mechanism with Orion as they did with the Apollo lunar landings.
Its only purpose is to transport humans from the Earth to orbit around the moon and return them to Earth. The crew will be transported to and from the surface of the moon by a spacecraft similar to the SpaceX Starship HLS, which will rendezvous in lunar orbit.
If all goes according to plan, Orion will return to Earth at the end of 2022 after orbiting the moon and proving its safety. That will provide NASA with the information required to start planning for Artemis 2, which is presently set for May 2024.
This crewed mission won’t include a landing, but Artemis 3 in 2025 is anticipated to mark the return of people to the moon after a protracted absence. The Gateway Station will be installed in lunar orbit as part of the next expeditions with the goal of establishing a permanent human presence there.
— NASA Artemis (@NASAArtemis) November 16, 2022
The SLS is disposable, which contributes to the lengthy gap between launches. Each launch requires NASA to construct a new rocket, which adds to the expense, which the agency’s auditor has estimated might exceed the anticipated $2 billion cost per launch.