NASA’s giant SLS rocket finally launches Artemis 1 mission to the moon

after many years Delays and a few false starts, the wait is finally over: NASA’s massive Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule lifted off at 1:48 a.m. ET on their way to the historic moon flyby. Crowds of onlookers watched on at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the roar of NASA rockets rang out again from the same launch pad where the space shuttle and Apollo missions began their journey into space.

The 212-foot-long rocket, which includes an orange core stage and two white solid rocket boosters, was docked to a ground structure called a mobile launcher, as in previous tests. After the boosters ignited, the rocket lifted off, flew past the launch tower, and began to rise through the atmosphere, a graduated orange streak shining behind it. “Lifting up for Artemis 1,” declared NASA live commentator Derrol Nail. “Together we rise, back to the moon and beyond.”

Two minutes later, the SLS booster finished burning its propellant and dropped. About eight minutes after launch, the core stage rocket ran out of fuel and also separated. This leaves the uncrewed Orion capsule still attached to the upper stage rocket and the service module, provided by the European Space Agency, which provides the spacecraft with primary propulsion and power. The Orion continued at more than 16,000 mph, and minutes later it deployed its solar panels.

If the mission goes according to plan, the capsule will separate from the SLS upper stage in about two hours.As it floats away, the upper stage will scatter batches of 10 small spacecraft called CubeSats, sending them out for mini task Around the Moon, Mars and a near-Earth asteroid.

Meanwhile, Orion will continue its flight, taking about 10 days to reach the moon, where it will spend a few weeks in a so-called “distant retrograde orbit” that balances the gravitational pull of the Earth and moon and doesn’t require much fuel maintenance .While circling the Moon, it will take images of the Earth and its satellites — including the iconic “Earthrise” photo Accept the Apollo 8 mission—and collect space radiation data so scientists can learn more about potential health risks to astronauts on long-duration trips beyond Earth’s protective atmosphere.

At the end of November, Orion will leave that orbit and cruise 40,000 miles beyond the Moon — the furthest a manned spacecraft has ever flown — before passing it on its way back to Earth in early December. Its 26-day journey will end when it parachutes down into Pacific waters about 50 miles off the coast of San Diego on Dec. 11.

Members of the Artemis mission team are ecstatic about the moment — and anxious about the first major moon landing since the Apollo era. “I’m excited to start this series of Artemis missions, go back to the moon, and basically start a new era that represents deeper space exploration and one day go to Mars. I’m so excited to see the rocket lift off tonight. It will It’s spectacular,” NASA astronaut Christina Koch said earlier Tuesday ahead of the launch.There will be many scientific, economic and other benefits Artemis Projectshe said, will help inspire the next generation of space explorers, thanks to NASA’s international and commercial partnerships.

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