It’s full speed ahead for NASA as the agency prepares to test its deep space exploration systems.
The Artemis I Mission is scheduled to launch Monday morning, and leaders from NASA and their partners on Friday discussed the steps being taken to advance human exploration.
Come Monday, thousands will flock to the Space Coast to watch the historic Artemis I test launch. It’s the first in a series of increasingly complex missions.
Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight test that will dive deep into space exploration itself.
“It’s just an exciting time. I can’t wait to see that thing launch on Monday morning,” said Doug Hurley, senior director of business development at Northrop Grumman. “Hope everybody can make it out and bring your families as well.”
The launch itself will be a demonstration of commitment and capability to return humans to the moon and beyond.
“The team at Lockheed Martin are totally energized to be here just days away from the Artemis I test flight because that test is going to give us the information and the data we need to prove out our systems and make Artemis II successful as well,” said Kelly DeFazio, director of Orion production with Lockheed Martin.
Once Artemis launches and reaches a certain point, the spacecraft will release Cubesats, which are tiny little satellites that will head farther out into deep space to study the moon and look for ice and sources of water on its surface.
It will take roughly a week for Artemis to reach the moon’s orbit, during which time engineers will evaluate the spacecraft’s systems.
The rocket will stay there for about a month before returning to Earth on Oct. 10.
Looking at the big picture, getting the whole Artemis mission up and running was no easy feat.
“It’s been, I think, over 3,000 companies that have participated. I will throw in another number -- that 700 small businesses (have participated) as well. And I think that’s tremendous that those small businesses play a role in this,” said Jim Free, associate administrator exploration system development mission director.
That’s a lot of people invested in this launch.
The three launch attempts each present different mission durations and launch timings, NASA officials said.
The Aug. 29 launch opportunity would open at 8:33 a.m. and last two hours.
Right now, Monday has been given a 70% launch chance and with the potential for clouds and stormy weather, we’ll have to keep a close eye on the forecast.
Assuming Artemis I launches successfully, the Orion capsule would return to Earth after 42 days for a splashdown on Oct. 1.
If the weather cancels the launch Monday, the next window will be Sept. 2 with a two-hour launch window starting at 12:48 p.m
In this scenario, Artemis I would return 39 days later on Oct. 11.
The last opportunity, Sept. 5, includes a 1.5-hour launch window starting at 5:12 p.m. and would see Artemis I return 42 days later, on Oct. 17.