The recent Orion spacecraft from NASA is currently on its way out ot the Moon, marking the first launch of a lunar rocket in well over 50 years, the last being the final Apollo mission.
This first Artemis I mission was used to launch the Space Launch System (SLS), which has been marked as the most powerful rocket in the world, in an uncrewed launch at exactly 1:47 A.M. EST Wednesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Launch pad 39B.
“What an incredible sight to see NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft launch together for the first time. This uncrewed flight test will push Orion to the limits in the rigors of deep space, helping us prepare for human exploration on the Moon and, ultimately, Mars,” explained Bill Nelson, a NASA Administrator, in the wake of the successful launch.
#Artemis I, you are going to the Moon!
At 1:47 am EST the @NASA_SLS rocket and @NASA_Orion spacecraft launched from Florida to make its 280,000-mile journey to the Moon. Still to come we have coverage of major milestones, an inside look of Mission Control, and more. pic.twitter.com/2SLQSrOSXc
— NASA's Johnson Space Center (@NASA_Johnson) November 16, 2022
This current lunar missi0n is slated to take well over 25 days to reach the Moon and return to Earth and is being heralded as a key test prior to the next phase of the planned mission to put American astronauts on the surface of the Moon within the next three years.
NASA’s deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, Jim Free, praised the successful liftoff of Orion.
“It’s taken a lot to get here, but Orion is now on its way to the Moon,” stated Free in the release issued by NASA. “This successful launch means NASA and our partners are on a path to explore farther in space than ever before for the benefit of humanity.”
NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston is slated to carry out the mission over the next few days, with Orion expected to be near the surface of the Moon by as soon as the 21st of November.
This successful launch has been much needed in the wake of a series of delays starting back in August. The first attempt to launch was aborted due to the discovery of a faulty temperature sensor. Just a week later, another launch was cut in the wake of a liquid hydrogen leak.
At that time the launch team had just begun the fueling of the Artemis I with almost a million gallons of fuel that morning when they spotted a sizeable leak near the bottom of the rocket alongside the engine section, explained an Associated Press report. Ground crews at that time attempted to stop the leak in an effort to coninue as scheduled, trying to stop and start the refueling of the liquid hydrogen and flushing a burst of helium through the fuel lines, but were in the end made to abort that launch as well.
The highly ambitious goals are not the only plans for reaching the lunar surface. China and Russia have also stepped up to announce their plans to work together on a new moon mission.