space Mission is due to land in the Pacific Ocean on December 11
NASA rocket at Kennedy Space Center, November 13, 2022. — UPI/Newscom/SIPA
After two failures, the third test for NASA's new mega-rocket: the takeoff of the Artemis 1 mission is scheduled for next night from Florida. And this time, all the lights seem to be green to finally launch the great American program to return to the Moon. The first flight of the SLS rocket, the most powerful in the world, is scheduled for Wednesday at; 7:04 a.m. French time, with a possible two-hour firing window. The weather is forecast to be cooperative, with a 90% chance of favorable weather.
“Our time will come, and we hope it will be Wednesday,” this Monday evening Mike Sarafin, mission manager. He praised “Perseverance” of its teams, who had to bounce back after two failed take-off attempts in the summer last, then two hurricanes. Fifty years after the last Apollo mission, this unmanned test flight, which will circumnavigate the Moon without landing, should confirm that the vehicle is safe for a future crew. This same rocket will take you to the future the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon.
#Artemis I is launching to the Moon!
3:30pm ET (2030 UTC): Tanking coverage
10:30pm ET (0330 UTC): Launch broadcast
8:30am ET (1330 UTC): Trajectory burn
10am ET (1500 UTC): Earth views from @NASA_Orion
— NASA (@NASA) November 14, 2022
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Thomas Pesquet on site
Despite a Wednesday night launch, some 100,000 people are expected to admire the show, especially from the surrounding beaches. Many astronauts are also making the trip, including the Frenchman Thomas Pesquet. Complex fueling operations are scheduled to begin Tuesday afternoon at the Kennedy Space Center, under the orders of Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, NASA's first female launch director. The orange main stage of the rocket will be filled with nearly 2.7 million liters of liquid oxygen and hydrogen.
This summer, a hydrogen leak had caused the the cancellation of the second take-off attempt at the last moment. Since then, the procedures have been modified and successfully verified in a test. The first cancellation was due to a faulty sensor. NASA officials have continued to to repeat that these problems were normal for a brand new vehicle, which his teams are learning to handle. understand and to handle.
After these technical problems, two hurricanes successively threatened the rocket. This 98-meter-tall giantess first had to having returned to its assembly building at the end of September to be upgraded; sheltered from Hurricane Ian, postponing takeoff by several weeks. Then, once out on her launch pad, she had to face the winds of Hurricane Nicole less than a week ago. This storm caused damage to a thin layer of sealant at the top of the rocket, but NASA has estimated Monday that the risk involved was minimal. In total, the program is several years behind schedule, and the success of this mission, which costs several billion dollars, has become imperative for NASA.
Just after takeoff, the teams from the control center at Houston, Texas will take over. After two minutes, the two white boosters will fall back into the Atlantic. After eight minutes, the main stage will detach at his turn. Then, about 1.5 hours after takeoff, a final push from the upper stage will put the Orion capsule on its way to the Moon, which it will reach in a few days. There, it will be placed in a distant orbit for about a week and will venture to Earth. 64,000 km behind the Moon – a record for a habitable capsule. Finally, Orion will begin its return to Earth, bringing the tested its heat shield, the largest ever built. It will have to withstand a temperature half as hot as the surface of the Sun as it passes through the atmosphere. If the take-off takes place on Wednesday, the mission should last 25 and a half days, with a landing in the Pacific Ocean on December 11.
After the Saturn V rocket of the Apollo missions, then the space shuttles, SLS must bring NASA into a new era of human exploration – this time deep space. In 2024, Artemis 2 will take astronauts to the Moon, still without landing there. A reserved honor to the crew of Artemis 3, in 2025 at the earliest. NASA then plans one mission per year, in particular to build a space station in orbit around the Moon, named Gateaway, and a base on its South Pole.
The goal is to test new equipment here  ;: spacesuits, pressurized vehicle, mini-electric power station, use of the ice water present on site… All in order to establish a lasting human presence there. This experiment should prepare a manned flight; to Mars, perhaps to the end of the 2030s. The round trip will take a minimum of two years.