NASA prepares to launch Artemis later this month

NASA is preparing for a new era of lunar exploration as the launch of the Artemis I mission approaches. Before humans finally return to the moon for the first time since the Apollo missions, Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight entering lunar orbit to test technology including a new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket ) of NASA. With the launch scheduled for later this month, NASA teams are working on final testing and preparations for the mission.

The launch is scheduled to continue on Monday, August 29, during a two-hour launch window beginning at 8:33 a.m. ET. If weather or other issues mean the launch should be delayed, chances are there are more launches in September, on the second and fifth of that month. The SLS will launch from Launch Complex 39B (LC-39B) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A view of Moonikin “Campos” installed in a seat inside the Artemis I Orion crew module atop a Space Launch System rocket on High Bay 3 from the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on August 3, 2022. NASA

With the current launch schedule, the SLS rocket with the crewed Orion capsule (which is filled with astronaut dolls to collect data) will perform a 42-day mission, as the rocket passes through Earth’s atmosphere before being jettisoned. Orion will orbit Earth before entering orbit around the Moon, collect data, and then return to Earth and land in the ocean on October 10.

NASA has confirmed that pre-launch activities are ahead of schedule. “As NASA’s first launch attempt for Artemis I approaches, teams are well ahead of schedule to complete final checks and shutdowns of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft at the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA wrote in an update.

“Teams are towing the VAB rigs that provide access to the rocket and spacecraft after engineers have completed installation of temporary cryogenic thrust stage thermal blankets around the launch vehicle stage converter. Technicians have also replaced the engine section flight doors on the rocket’s primary stage. Final inspections in those sections have been completed. It is ready to fly.”

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