NASA confirms launch of Artemis I, the mission to return to the Moon
The goal of the international Artemis program, one of the most important space missions, is to bring humans back to the Moon. Something that is closer to happen, as NASA has recently confirmed the launch windows they handle for the Space Launch System (SLS) Artemis I rocket.
Those responsible at the U.S. space agency for the Artemis I mission have announced that they expect the rocket’s liftoff to take place in late August or early September of this year 2022. A moment that would be the first step towards establishing a lasting human presence on the Moon while working on the leap to Mars.
Mike Sarafin, director of the Artemis mission, has assured in a press conference that the agency is working concretely with three dates to carry out the launch of the spacecraft: August 29, September 2 and 5.
The anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing was celebrated on July 20, and Sarafin said it was “a good reminder of what a privilege it is to be part of a mission like this”. He also recalled that “the teams have been working on the project for a long time”.
The Artemis mission director also noted that more details about the mission will be released in the next two weeks, including the final liftoff and equipment test dates.
The mission that seeks to take astronauts back to the Moon carried out a month ago a test at the Kennedy Space Center, in the state of Florida in the United States. A test that consisted in the filling of fuel tanks and the countdown, although finally it had to be shortened due to a hydrogen leak in the rocket.
A leak that technicians failed to fix, so they finally opted to mask the data associated with this failure, which in a real launch day scenario would cause the countdown to stop in order to allow them to get as far as possible.
The first three tests had been canceled last April due to problems pumping more than 700,000 gallons of fuel for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which will carry the Orion capsule.
NASA seeks to launch the SLS and with it Artemis I, an unmanned mission to the Moon that would orbit to return back to Earth. After that, Artemis II would make the same trip the following year, but this time with a crew on board.
The space agency plans to take astronauts to the Moon under the Artemis III mission, the first NASA mission to take humans to the Earth’s satellite in more than half a century. The last mission in which NASA astronauts set foot on the Moon was Apollo 17, which took place between December 7 and 19, 1972.