In the early hours of this morning (16th Nov), NASA’s Artemis I began its mission around the Moon as it launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It is the first integrated flight test of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft beyond the Moon, so the Artemis I launch represents a moment of space history.
The launch is the first leg of a mission that will see Orion travel approximately 40,000 miles beyond the Moon and return to Earth after 25.5 days.
The take-off follows previously aborted launch attempts due to liquid hydrogen leaks, faulty sensors, tropical storms and more.
The spacecraft is uncrewed, but the mission is paving the way for a crewed test flight and for human lunar explorations.
Jim Free, NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, said, “It’s taken a lot to get here, but Orion is now on its way to the Moon. This successful launch means NASA and our partners are on a path to explore further in space than ever before the benefit of humanity.”
Artemis I is primarily powered by liquid oxygen and supercooled liquid hydrogen fuel.
“Certainly there’s no question that hydrogen is a challenging molecule, but it’s worth it,” John Blevins, NASA’s Chief SLS Engineer, said after an aborted launch recently. “Hydrogen is the highest-performance molecule and if you look at the mission we’re doing, it begs the use of this fuel.”