Guess who’s back? Back again?
That’s right, NASA will make their long-awaited return to the moon, with the launch set to take place from Kennedy Space Center on August 29th. Sending the massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Artemis I to the moon, will also be on the 53rd anniversary of the Apollo II landing on the moon.
Jim Free, NASA associate administrator gave a briefing to reporters about the mission. “It’s a special day, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing 53 years ago. It’s really great to talk about this test flight to begin our Artemis program to go back to the moon.”
This kind of achievement is something the American people have been missing for decades. Thanks to Space X, it’s not coming at the same expense it had years ago.
When the mission goes correctly, the Artemis I mission will send an uncrewed Orion capsule around the moon and back. Takeoff is currently scheduled to take place on Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center. Should something happen to scrap that launch window, September 2nd and 5th are penciled in as potential replacement dates.
Should all three dates fail, the SLS would go back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for pre-launch work, and likely wouldn’t be able to reemerge until mid-October. As it sits now, the SLS will be rolling out to the launchpad on August 18th to get prepared for their launch. Sitting out in the moist Florida air takes its toll on the sensitive components of these rockets, hence the small timetable for launch or re-prep.
If all goes right, the two-hour launch window will open at 0833 eastern, and it is designed to be a long-duration mission. Lasting 42 days, the targeted splashdown of the Orion capsule is no later than October 10th. To prepare for this, NASA officials have been doing mock fueling runs of the rocket, and with one exception they have all gone to plan. Even the exception was still successful enough to get the stamp of approval.
This mission will be with the Orion unscrewed through the duration, with three mannequins on board to test how the mission will affect humans.
With three key goals in mind for this mission, they will be ensuring that each step of this is safe before undertaking such an arduous adventure.
Test the heat shield of the Orion spacecraft during re-entry from lunar orbit.
Demonstrate all operations of the rocket and capsule across all phases of the mission.
Retrieve the Orion spacecraft after splashdown.
Meeting success on all three goals will mean that humans could be back on the moon by 2024. With how long it has been since a human was on the moon’s surface, this will help to establish American dominance yet again in space.
As much as the left will try and take credit for this somehow, the man truly responsible for this is Elon Musk and his company SpaceX. Their innovation to see the future of returnable rocket boosters, and ensuring the American people aren’t losing billions in taxes for every space flight has had a huge impact on not only NASA’s bottom line but has also gotten people interested in space yet again.
The years of kids dreaming of being an astronaut have seemingly faded in the face of all this new technology, and a mission back to the moon could help reinvigorate that interest. Even just slingshotting around the moon is something most haven’t thought about in years, and getting people talking about it is the first step in getting new blood in the program and achieving even greater space exploration.