The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is ready for the Artemis 1 mission. Due to technical faults, its launch was repeatedly postponed, and after a successful “wet general rehearsal”, it was scheduled for the end of August. The unmanned mission is a testing ground for the Orion capsule, which is expected to bring astronauts to the moon in three years.
On Tuesday night, the nearly 100-meter SLS rocket was transported from the assembly center at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the launch site, the 39B rocket launcher.
The journey of the space vehicle was not long. The distance between the two points is less than 6.4 kilometers, but due to its dimensions, the transport took 11 hours.
There is a starting date
The launch of the Artemis 1 mission is scheduled for August 29. The SLS rocket, topped with an empty Orion transport capsule, will be launched towards the Moon. The vehicle will circle the satellite and then return to the Earth’s surface. The US space agency said Orion will stay in space longer than any astronaut ship in history, and its return will be “faster and hotter than ever.”
This mission is to last several weeks and end with the launch of the ship in the Pacific Ocean.
Four approaches to a key test
Initially, the Artemis 1 mission was supposed to start in 2018, but its launch was repeatedly delayed. Numerous technical problems were the cause. The rocket was first transported to the launch site in March this year for a key test for the success of the mission. It is a so-called “wet dress test”, simulating every stage of the take-off except exiting the launch pad. Includes turning on the Orion rocket and spacecraft, loading fuel into the rocket’s tanks, a full take-off countdown, resetting the countdown timer and emptying the rocket’s tanks.
The first attempt, and the next two, however, were unsuccessful. In April, the test had to be postponed due to problems with loading the fuel into the rocket. It was only after a successful trial in June that it was decided that the mission could take off soon.
Objective: return to the moon
Artemis 1 is the first, so far unmanned, stage of the program, the goal of which is another human landing on the moon. If the flight is successful, in May 2024 the capsule and its crew will circle the moon. It will be the Artemis 2 mission. People are to set their leg on the Silver Globe in 2025 as part of Artemis 3.
The last time humans landed on the moon was in 1972 as part of the Apollo 17 mission.
Reuters, NASA, EarthSky, PAP, NYT, tvnmeteo.pl
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / Joel Kowsky / HANDOUT