Artemis In the mega rocket can be launched on its way to the moon on August 29, September 2 or September 5, according to Jim Free, assistant administrator of NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, during a press conference on Wednesday.
The unmanned Artemis I will launch on a mission that goes beyond the moon and returns to Earth. This mission will launch NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the moon and land the first woman and the first colored person on the moon’s surface by 2025.
The launch window opens at 8:33 AM on August 29 and stays open for two hours. If Artemis I is launched then, the mission will last for 42 days and return to Earth on October 10.
The launch window on September 2 opens at 12:48 ET and lasts for two hours and would result in a return on October 11, and the September 5 window opens at. 17.12 ET and lasts for 90 minutes, resulting in in and return October 17th.
The Artemis team arrived on these dates after completing a crucial final test called the wet test of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft on June 20. The test simulated each step of the launch without the rocket leaving the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The mission team rolled the rocket back into the Vehicle Assembly Building on July 2 to assess issues that emerged during the test, including a hydrogen leak.
During repairs to the leak, engineers found a loose fitting inside the rocket’s nuclear engine section. Work to tighten the collet, a fist-sized ring, has now been completed, said Cliff Lanham, senior vehicle operations manager for NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program.
Further testing and activation of systems continues while the rocket is in the building before returning to the launch pad.
The launch dates may move and are “not an agency obligation,” Free said. “We will commit to the agency after a review of flight readiness just over a week before launch. “Weather and other factors can affect when the rocket is launched.
“We have to be careful,” Free said.
The Artemis I mission is a test flight with a number of objectives, including trying out how Orion’s heat shield holds up to the high speed and heat the spacecraft will encounter when it enters Earth’s atmosphere again after returning from the moon.
It will travel at about 24,500 miles per hour (39,429 kilometers per hour) and experience temperatures half as hot as the sun outside the heat shield, according to Mike Sarafin, Artemis’ mission leader. This is much warmer and faster than when spacecraft return from low orbit around the earth.
Other goals include demonstrating operations and flight modes for the rocket and spacecraft ahead of crew missions, retrieving Orion after it launches into the ocean, and completing the mission as planned, Sarafin said.
The team is prepared to adapt to any challenges along the way, and some goals may change as a result, he said.
The Artemis team shared the update on the 53rd anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing.
“Today’s anniversary is a good reminder of what a privilege it is to be part of a mission like this,” Sarafin said. “It’s not just the Artemis I mission, but it’s a bigger picture of returning to the moon and preparing to go to Mars.”