Update for 2 a.m. ET: NASA successfully launched the Artemis 1 lunar mission on the first Space Launch System rocket at 1:47 a.m. EST (0647 GMT) with resounding success. Read our full Artemis 1 launch story. You can also see stunning Artemis 1 launch photos, first photos of the Orion spacecraft, and find out what awaits Artemis 1 on its 25-day journey to the moon.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The countdown has begun for the launch of NASA’s beleaguered Artemis 1 lunar mission.
Despite some concerns over damage to the $4.1 billion Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle and Orion spacecraft due to Hurricane Nicole, NASA is moving forward with its launch attempt current. Artemis 1 currently counts down to a two-hour launch window that begins Wednesday, November 16 at 1:04 a.m. EST (0604 GMT). You can watch the launch live online here on Space.com courtesy of NASA.
Live coverage of the Artemis 1 countdown and launch events will be shown on Space.com courtesy of NASA Television, NASA’s mobile app (opens in a new tab)and the agency’s official website (opens in a new tab). The pre-launch activity broadcast begins at 3:30 p.m. EST (2030 GMT) when the agency begins the process of cryogenically refueling the Space Launch System.
Related: Watch NASA’s Artemis 1 launch online for free
Read more: NASA’s Artemis 1 Lunar Mission: Live Updates
Artemis 1 was originally scheduled to launch in late August, but refueling issues led to a month-long delay. Then came Hurricane Ian, which caused further delays when NASA removed the Artemis 1 SLS stack from Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to house the massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB ). After having been rolled on the mat again on November 4, SLS faced Hurricane Nicole, which subjected the vehicle to strong winds while it weakened into a tropical storm shortly after making landfall.
Despite the fact that the SLS vehicle and the Orion spacecraft suffered minor damage during Hurricane Nicole, NASA officials are confident in their decision to target the Nov. 16 launch attempt. “There is no change in our plan to attempt to launch 16,” Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said during a media conference call Monday, Nov. carried out damage analyses.
One of the main areas of concern is a thin strip of insulating caulking known as RTV that smooths a small groove around the Orion spacecraft to prevent unwanted airflow and heating during flight. A section of RTV was blown off by Nicole’s winds, and it is now feared that others will break loose during takeoff and create a debris hazard for SLS.
Read more: NASA orders 3 more Orion crew capsules for Artemis lunar missions
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The Artemis 1 mission team has been analyzing the risks associated with the damaged RTV as the massive countdown here at KSC continues to tick down to the Nov. 16 launch window.
“The unanimous recommendation for the team was that we were in a good position to move forward and proceed with the launch countdown,” said Jeremy Parsons, deputy director of NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems program at Kennedy Space Center. in Florida, during a media conference call on Monday (November 14).
Artemis 1 will be SLS’s maiden voyage and the Orion capsule’s second flight after a test flight atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket in 2014. If all goes as planned, the mission will be the first of the new NASA program. lunar exploration program that will see astronauts orbit the moon with a crewed launch of Artemis 2 in 2024, and put humans back on the moon near the lunar south pole with Artemis 3 in 2025 or 2026.
Artemis 1 will last nearly 26 days upon launch, ending with the Orion capsule splashing down in the Pacific Ocean after re-entering Earth’s atmosphere at 25,000 mph (40,200 kph).
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