In less than 24 hours, the launch window opens for NASA’s Artemis I mission. Mission control could launch NASA’s biggest rocket yet by Monday morning at 8:33 a.m. eastern time.
The Artemis program marks NASA’s return to the Moon after nearly 50 years. The program will send the first woman and person of color to the lunar surface. The research performed on the Moon will provide the necessary information to transition the program to its ultimate goal—landing astronauts on Mars.
However, NASA says some of the main goals of this mission are to test the Orion capsule and SLS launch system ahead of Artemis II—the program’s first manned mission.
NASA Test Director for Artemis I Jeff Spaulding said this flight’s procedures get them ready for when astronauts are in the capsule.
“The process for preparing the pad for launch is the same, the process for preparing the vehicle for launch is the same, the loading of the cryogenics will all be the same from that perspective,” Spaulding said.
The agenda plans for a mission lasting up to 42 days, launching from Kennedy Space Center and traveling to lunar orbit. It will stay in orbit for up to one and a half trips around the Moon before traveling back to Earth and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.
Most recently, teams powered up the Space Launch System rocket’s core stage and charged both the Orion capsule and the core stage batteries overnight Saturday.
If the launch does not go through Monday, two other potential launch days are planned—one this Friday, September 2, and another next Monday, September 5. However, Spaulding has a high degree of confidence.
“We look great for tomorrow. I love the fact that the weather looks like it’s going to cooperate at the beginning of the window and our job is to get to the beginning of the window and that’s what I’m gonna try to get the team to do.”
For the latest on Artemis I, listen to Morning Edition on WUFT-FM Monday morning and check back on WUFT.org.