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Green light for the fifth launch attempt of the Artemis 1 mission

They mark the return of man to the Moon. The Orion capsule will be propelled by the SLS rocket.

After some setbacks of a mechanical and meteorological nature -which forced the launch to be postponed four times- NASA’s Artemis I mission is scheduled for this Wednesday, at 3 in the morning, Argentine time.

The green light was confirmed after the day’s inspections revealed no structural damage, following Hurricane Nicole’s passage through Florida. Takeoff is scheduled for this Wednesday at 1:40 (00:40 GMT) with a launch window of two hours.

Seven hours before the stipulated time, the fuel tank of the Space Launch System (SLS), the monumental rocket in charge of putting the mission underway, will be filled.

Ten hours before the scheduled time, the NASA channels began to broadcast content related to the operation, including any news on the status and evolution of the mission.

High expectations for Artemis

Everything ready for the takeoff of Artemis, Nasa Photo.

Artemis will depart from Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, United States, with an inclination of 28.5 degrees toward the Equator.

Added to the expectations for the imminent return of man to the Moon is the auspicious debut of the Orion spacecraft “mounted on the SLS rocket, considered the most powerful in the world,” NASA underlines.

In addition, it will go farther than “any human-built spacecraft has ever flown,” traveling to 450,000 kilometers from Earth and 64,000 kilometers beyond the far side of the Moon.

At a time when the continuity of the International Space Station (ISS) is in question, the space agency seeks to broaden the horizons of its missions to base itself on our natural satellite.

The three parts of Artemis

Artemis 1 - Orion - Launch

Billed as an uncrewed flight test, Artemis I will be the first in a series of “increasingly complex” missions to develop a long-term human presence on the Moon. during the next decades.

The objectives outlined by NASA for this first stage are intended to “demonstrate the capability of Orion systems in a space flight environment and ensure safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery.”

For this reason, in this first outing, no astronauts will travel, but two mannequins equipped with 5,600 sensors, which will measure the amount of radiation to which the astronauts could be exposed.

The first leg of the mission spans three weeks and its re-entry is scheduled for December 11. Its goal is to use the satellite’s gravitational pull to propel itself into a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon, traveling approximately 2.1 million kilometers.

Orion will arrive with a speed of about 40 thousand kilometers per hour. The Earth’s atmosphere will dampen this acceleration up to 480 kilometers, producing temperatures of about 2,800 degrees.

If the rocket and capsule pass the test, the Artemis 2 mission will travel with astronauts to lunar orbit in 2024. The first two astronauts to set foot on the lunar surface, including a woman, will be part of the Artemis 3 mission, whose start date is marked on the almanac for 2025.

How will the launch be?

All set for the Space Launch System to take off.

All set for the Space Launch System to take off.

Upon completion of the launch, the thrusters will detach and the core stage of the launch system will separate from the spacecraft, leaving Orion attached to an Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) that will propel it toward the Moon.

This is a maneuver known as a “translunar injection” in which a point around the moon is precisely targeted to guide Orion close enough to be captured by lunar gravity.

Two hours after departure, Orion will separate from this stage to continue on its way to the Moon powered by a module from the European Space Agency (ESA) that will correct course if necessary along the way.

The multiple delays

The initial launch of Artemis 1 was scheduled for late August, but fueling problems caused the first delay.

The arrival of Hurricane Ian led to further delays as NASA moved the SLS Artemis 1 stack from Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to safekeeping in the massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).

After being rolled back to the pad on November 4, the SLS had to weather Hurricane Nicole, which subjected the vehicle to high winds as it weakened to a tropical storm shortly after landfall.

The reason there were such long stretches between launch attempts is due to the rotation of the Earth and the position of the Moon.

Taking off a rocket under certain circumstances requires much less fuel than under others. If a release misses its window, it typically cannot be re-released the next day.

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