Science & Technology

NASA Will Roll Artemis 1 Moon Rocket to the Launch Pad Today

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It has been many years since NASA launched a moon mission, however we’re inching nearer to a return to the lunar floor. Talking of inching, the rocket that can return astronauts to the moon goes to start creeping towards the launch pad at the moment. NASA is rolling out the Artemis 1 Area Launch System (SLS) at Kennedy Area Middle, making preparations to launch it this Might. Lots has to go proper earlier than that may occur, and the SLS doesn’t precisely have an excellent monitor file. 

We’ve seen corporations like SpaceX and Blue Origin transfer towards reusable launch autos, however the SLS is a traditional single-use rocket. The Artemis 1 mission is uncrewed, however it can nonetheless spend one of many Artemis Program’s lavishly costly rockets. NASA Inspector Common Paul Martin lately acknowledged that the true price of every launch may very well be $4.1 billion, a lot larger than the official $2 billion estimate. Thus, NASA has to verify all the things is ideal when Artemis 1 lights up its engines in a couple of months. 

NASA will start rolling the SLS out to Pad 39B at 5PM ET at the moment (March 17). You’ll be able to watch it dwell on YouTube (see beneath), full with commentary from scientists and NASA administrator Invoice Nelson. The megarocket will probably be driving the crawler, a 50-year-old car construct through the Apollo period that strikes rockets between launch pads and the Car Meeting Constructing the place rockets are stacked previous to launch. The crawler is huge and durable, but it surely lives as much as the title with a prime velocity of 0.8 MPH — it can take about 11 hours for the SLS to get the place it’s going. 

This received’t be Artemis 1’s last journey on Earth. As soon as it’s on the launch pad, NASA engineers will spend the following a number of weeks getting ready for a “wet dress rehearsal” on April third. The SLS will probably be fueled and prepped for launch, however NASA will solely simulate the countdown. After the take a look at, there will probably be a couple of weeks of study, after which Artemis 1 goes again to the VAB for one final test earlier than it rolls out for the official launch. 

NASA has Artemis on the schedule for an uncrewed flight in Might, sending the Orion capsule across the moon and again. Artemis 2 will probably be primarily the identical mission with a crew on board, slated for 2024. The next yr, NASA hopes to launch Artemis 3, which would be the first lunar touchdown because the Seventies. The timeline for Artemis might nonetheless change — the SLS has taken years longer than anticipated to succeed in this level, and even minor errors at this stage might require months to handle.

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