May 28, 2024

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

by Gabriella Sotelo (18 November 2022)

After previous launches were hindered due to technical problems, NASA has finally launched Artemis I. Artemis I is NASA’s first integrated flight test of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft, and successfully lifted off early in the morning on November 16, 2022. Artemis I’s mission has started and has also kickstarted NASA’s Artemis lunar program.

This launch makes the SLS rocket the most powerful rocket to ever fly as it generated 8.8 million pounds of thrust. The rocket will be launched with Orion, that NASA describes as an exploration vehicle that will “carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.” On SLS, it is an  uncrewed astronaut capsule that will enter Earth’s orbit and follow a planned course to fly past the Moon and come back to Earth over the next 25 days. This Artemis I flight will test whether both the rocket and capsule will be able to transport humans safely in the future. It will also deploy small satellites. 

This was the third time NASA attempted the launch, in which they succeeded, the first time was on August 29 but couldn’t because of a faulty sensor, and then on September 3 but did not because of a hydrogen leak. Some were worried that the launch would be delayed again due to minor damage caused by Hurricane Nicole, but the launched still succeeded despite it.

The future of the Artemis Program

NASA plans to launch Artemis II hopefully in 2024. Artemis II will be the first Artemis crewed mission into space.

Artemis III is scheduled to launch in 2025. This launch will hopefully land the first woman on the Moon and also the first person of color on the Moon, according to NASA. This would be the United State’s first crewed Moon landing since the Apollo launch in 1972!

The Artemis I mission should end with Orion’s re-entry in about 25 days.