NASA’s Artemis I lunar mission launched on Wednesday after months of postponement. The flight serves as a step for the next human-manned mission to Earth’s closest neighbor.
Before ultimately taking off this month, the unmanned space trip encountered multiple setbacks. First, the rocket towers 322 feet tall and is powered by the Space Launch System. Then, around 1:47 a.m., the Artemis rocket lifted off the ground in Florida, producing approximately 9 million pounds of force.
It transports the Orion spacecraft, which will finish its journey to the moon after it departs the Earth’s atmosphere. While Orion was built to transport humans, NASA had to consider the crew’s safety.
Orion has unique mannequins that will assist NASA researchers in gathering vital data to support humans after they depart for Artemis II. If everything goes as planned, Orion will travel 1.3 million miles from Earth, the furthest a spacecraft built for humans has ever traveled.
The spacecraft will then complete one circle around the moon before returning to Earth. According to NASA, the journey will take around 25.5 days, and the floating engine will re-enter Earth on December 11 near the coast of San Diego.
Artemis I delayed for several months
The group in charge of the Artemis I mission had several obstacles before lifting off. For example, NASA canceled its scheduled September launch owing to engine leakage. Furthermore, two storms hit the country, causing significant delays with the mission.
NASA must begin the launch under optimum weather conditions for the best odds of success. But unfortunately, the problems persisted, prompting NASA to deploy its “red crew,” a group of experts delegated to resolve the rocket’s issues.
“We do not launch until we think it’s right. These teams have labored over that, which is the conclusion they came to. I look at this as part of our space program, in which safety is the top of the list,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson.
“The rocket, it’s alive, it’s creaking, its making venting noises — it’s pretty scary. So my heart was pumping. My nerves were going but, yeah, we showed up today. When we walked up the stairs, we were ready to rock and roll,” said a red crew member.
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Humanity claiming another milestone
The achievement of the Artemis I flight signifies another victory for humanity. It also secures another step toward NASA’s goal of completing the second manned journey to the moon. NASA crews and staff rejoiced after launching Artemis into the sky.
“Well, for once, I might be speechless. I have talked a lot about appreciating the moment that you’re in. And we have worked hard as a team. You guys have worked hard as a team to this moment. This is your moment,” said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, the launch director of the mission.
“As we embark on the first Artemis test flight, we recall this agency’s storied past, but our eyes are focused not on the immediate future but out there,” Nelson said months ago.
“It’s a future where NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon. And on these increasingly complex missions, astronauts will live and work in deep space, and we’ll develop the science and technology to send the first humans to Mars.”