NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar rocket is no longer on the launch pad.
The Artemis 1 stack – one space launch system (SLS) topped by an Orion crew capsule – departed Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida at 4:12 a.m. EDT (0812 GMT) on Saturday (July 2).
Artemis 1 It recently concluded its “wet dress rehearsal,” a crucial series of tests and simulations designed to help determine a vehicle’s readiness for flight. This wet dress hit was hard-earned; The Artemis 1 team first attempted to mark the milestone in early April, but was thwarted by various technical issues. including a stuck valve. Team members ended up returning the stack to the VAB for repair on April 25, and then sent it back to the platform for another attempt earlier this month.
The latest attempt was not perfect: a hydrogen leak was discovered during fueling operations, but NASA officials considered it good enough to begin preparing Artemis 1 for liftoff.
Artemis 1 will send an uncrewed Orion on a roughly month-long journey around Moon. The mission team is apparently considering liftoff in late August or early September, but no official target date will be set until SLS and Orion have been fully inspected at VAB.
As its name suggests, Artemis 1 is NASA’s first mission artemis programwhich aims to establish a sustainable human presence on and around the Moon by the end of the 2020s. If all goes well with Artemis 1, Artemis 2 will send a crew Orion around the moon in 2024, and Artemis 3 will put astronauts near the lunar south pole about two years later.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 2:15 p.m. EDT on June 30 with the new estimated rollback start time at 8 p.m. POT moved the reversal forward by four hours (opens in a new tab) due to expected bad weather overnight. The story was updated again at 7:20 p.m. EDT on June 30 with the most recent estimated reversal time at 6 p.m. to the VAB, “NASA officials said via Twitter (opens in a new tab). This story was updated for the third time at 11:15 a.m. EDT on July 1 with the new estimated rollback start time at 11 p.m. NASA moved the reversal later due to weather, according to NASA officials (opens in a new tab). The story was last updated at 4:55 pm EDT on July 2 with the news that Artemis 1 had arrived at the VAB.
Mike Wall is the author of “out there (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; Illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @migueldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter pspacedotcom (opens in a new tab) or in Facebook (opens in a new tab).