As was expected, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), launched the super-heavy Space Launch System rocket with Orion spacecraft. This launch was part of the Artemis 1 moon mission. The launch was conducted from pad 39B, Kennedy Space Center, Florida at 09:47 Moscow time.
Within minutes of launch, the Orion spacecraft was separated from its main carrier by the second stage. The second stage will allow the spacecraft to reach the desired speed and direction. After that, it will continue on its own towards the Moon. Orion will be waiting for the spacecraft to complete a 25.5-day journey. This includes a full circle around the satellite, entering the orbit of the Moon, and returning to Earth. NASA will soon be able to land astronauts on the Moon’s surface if this mission succeeds.
More than ten years ago, the history of SLS began. The super-heavy launch vehicle, which was designed to carry a crew of four, was launched in 2011. Its first unmanned orbital flight was set for 2016. Due to difficulties with financing, the carrier was not ready for launch on the scheduled date. Further delays were caused by technical issues that NASA engineers encountered during pre-flight testing for the SLS system.
It is not the first occasion that NASA has attempted to launch an SLS rocket. Although the first attempt was set for August 29, 2022 due to problems with one of the engines’ temperature sensors and a fuel leak, the launch was cancelled. A hydrogen leak led to the cancellation of the September 3 launch attempt. Although the next launch window was scheduled for September 3, a hydrogen leak was discovered. The launch was cancelled and the rocket was placed in a hangar to keep it safe. Experts estimate that NASA currently has spent more than $21 million on the creation and development of the SLS.
If the current mission is successful then an Artemis 2 crew of astronauts will take to the skies. The Orion spacecraft will take them around the moon and land several thousand kilometers below the surface. After that, they will return to Earth. The launch of the Artemis 2 mission will be in 2024.
Artemis 3 will not allow astronauts to land on the surface the satellite of our planet before 2025. It is important to note that this special landing module will be used, since Orion’s spacecraft is incapable of soft landing on the Moon. SpaceX is currently developing the Starship HLS descend module. NASA has already chosen 13 sites close to the south pole of Moon that are suitable for future landings of astronauts.