Amid delays, diplomatic rows, and verbal conflict, the Moon mission is all set to return. The mega Space Launch System (SLS) will be rolled out on the launch pad today as Nasa begins the countdown for humans to set foot on the Moon again.
Nasa will roll out the world’s most powerful rocket to the launch pad today with the Orion spacecraft stacked on top that will act as a home to astronauts as they begin their journey to and from the Moon. Artemis I will be the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to build a long-term human presence at the Moon for decades to come.
Nasa has said that the primary goals for Artemis I are to demonstrate Orion’s systems in a spaceflight environment and ensure a safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery prior to the first flight with crew on Artemis II.
WATCH THE MOON ROCKET ROLL OUT TO PAD HERE
WHAT IS ARTEMIS MISSION?
The Artemis mission aims to return American astronauts to the Moon decades after the Apollo program was scrapped over budgetary issues. Nasa has been leading the Moon mission since the cold war era when Neil Armstrong landed on the lunar surface in 1969.
During Artemis 1, the spacecraft will launch on the most powerful rocket in the world and fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown. Traveling nearly 280,000 miles from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about four to six-weeks, Orion will stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station.
“This is a mission that truly will do what hasn’t been done and learn what isn’t known. It will blaze a trail that people will follow on the next Orion flight, pushing the edges of the envelope to prepare for that mission,” Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager said. According to Nasa, once all checks are complete, the SLS and Orion will blast off from Launch Complex 39B carrying crew or cargo to the Moon and beyond, and will produce 8.8 million pounds of thrust during liftoff and ascent to loft a vehicle weighing nearly six million pounds to orbit.
WHAT IS THE MEGA MOON ROCKET?
Getting to the Moon is not easy, Nasa had to develop the world’s most powerful rocket system capable enough to launch humans into lunar orbit. The 322 feet rocket is powered by four RS-25 engines that will burn 7,35,000 gallons of liquid propellant to create two million pounds of thrust.
After the rocket burns through the fuel in the boosters and core stage, it drops them. The solid rocket boosters separate two minutes into the flight, and the core stage falls away around eight minutes after launch. Nasa said that after SLS loses the weight of its first stage propulsion systems and fuel, it will be at a staggering speed of 17,500 miles per hour in Low Earth Orbit.
The initial configuration of SLS can send more than 27 metric tons (59,000 pounds) to lunar orbits and future upgrades will enable the rocket to send at least 46 metric tons. To escape Earth’s gravity the system will perform a trans-lunar injection that makes it possible to send Orion 280,000 miles beyond Earth and 40,000 miles beyond the Moon.
WHAT IS ORION SPACECRAFT?
The Orion spacecraft is the critical part of the mission that will be the home for astronauts and cargo headed to the Moon. The spacecraft has been built for deep space missions and one could see its role spanning from Moon to Mars. Named after one of the largest constellations in the night sky, Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain astronauts during their missions and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.
“Drawing from more than 50 years of spaceflight research and development, the Orion spacecraft is designed to meet the evolving needs of our nation’s deep space exploration program for decades to come,” Nasa said.
Together the rocket system will be rolled out on the launch pad today for a wet dress rehearsal before it ignites for the maiden uncrewed mission later this year.