The successful launch of NASA’s Artemis 1 rocket moves mankind one step closer to a lunar landing
After multiple delays caused by engine issues, fuel leaks, and Mother Nature forcing the agency to reschedule due to tropical storms, NASA’s Artemis 1 mission has finally launched. This is the first time NASA’s Space Launch System, its most powerful rocket to yet, and the Orion crew spacecraft have flown together; it also marks the formal start of the agency’s Artemis mission, which seeks to return humans to the Moon.
Before this last (and successful) launch attempt, NASA was doubtful if the rocket would take off. The launch crew noticed a leak on the liquid hydrogen refill valve on the launch tower, and it required some time to tighten the bolts surrounding it. Furthermore, the US Space Force had to repair the radar that was supposed to follow the rocket’s launch when it went down unexpectedly. Finally, the ground team was able to repair the hydrogen leak, and Space Force discovered that the radar problem was caused by a faulty Ethernet switch.
NASA had to postpone the launch of Artemis 1 by almost an hour, but it was the only time the mission was delayed. SLS was launched at 1:50 a.m. Eastern time. A few minutes later, the Orion capsule successfully deployed its solar arrays, and the core stage’s engines were turned off so it could break free and fall into the Atlantic Ocean. The rocket’s second stage will then ignite its engine, sending Orion on a course towards the Moon. It will also eventually separate, allowing the crew vehicle to travel around the Moon for four weeks before returning to Earth. The capsule will drop ten CubeSats along the trip to conduct their own scientific experiments that will aid future deep space missions.
Artemis 1 will provide NASA with the data it needs to verify that humans can go to the Moon safely onboard the Orion spaceship. It will also allow NASA to test whether the vehicle’s thermal shield can effectively protect the humans on board when it re-enters our atmosphere and crashes down into the Pacific Ocean. If everything checks out, NASA may begin preparing for Artemis 2, Orion’s first crewed mission, which would carry people on a lunar flyby.