Excitement builds as NASA’s moon rocket readies for liftoff | Space News

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NASA’s most powerful rocket to date will launch on its debut test flight, launching the US Space Agency’s mission to take humans back to the Moon and eventually Mars.

Fifty years after the last Apollo mission, the Artemis mission will kick off with the detonation of the unmanned Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at 8:33 a.m. (12:33 GMT) from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday. .

Tens of thousands of people, including US Vice President Kamala Harris, are expected to attend the launch, while hotels around Cape Canaveral are fully booked for the event.

“This mission is accompanied by many hopes and dreams of many people. And we’re the Artemis generation now,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said on Saturday.

The goal of the six-week test flight, called Artemis 1, is to test the SLS and the Orion crew pod that sits atop the missile. The capsule will orbit the moon to see if the ship is safe from humans in the near future.

Instead of astronauts, three test dummies are strapped into the capsule to measure vibration, acceleration and radiation, one of the greatest dangers to humans in deep space.

The capsule alone has more than 1,000 sensors.

Standing 98 meters (322 feet) high, the SLS-Orion combo is the centerpiece of the US space agency’s successor to the Apollo lunar program of the 1960s and 1970s. Billed as the world’s most powerful, most complex rocket, the SLS represents the largest new vertical launch system NASA has built since the Saturn V that flew for Apollo.

The next mission, Artemis 2, will put astronauts into orbit around the moon without landing on the surface. If the first two Artemis missions succeed, NASA aims to land astronauts back on the moon as early as 2025, including the first woman to set foot on the lunar surface, though many experts believe the time frame will likely narrow by a few years. .

The last humans to walk on the moon were the two-man descent team from Apollo 17 in 1972, following in the footsteps of 10 other astronauts on five previous missions, starting with Apollo 11 in 1969.

The Artemis program aims to eventually establish a long-term lunar base as a stepping stone to even more ambitious astronaut journeys to Mars, a goal that NASA officials say will likely last until at least the end of the 2030s.

Jack Burns, an astrophysicist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said the Artemis missions will use new technology not available during the Apollo mission.

“Going forward to the moon is the right way to describe it, because it’s not your grandfather’s Apollo program,” he told Al Jazeera. “This is all new technology, new motivation, new opportunity. It will be exciting to bring all that technology to the moon.”

NASA said there is an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather for a launch on time at the start of a two-hour launch window.

“Everything so far looks good from a vehicle perspective,” said Jeff Spaulding, NASA’s senior director of testing. “We are excited, the vehicle is ready, it looks great.”

Although lightning rods at the launch site were hit during a storm on Saturday, Spaulding said he “didn’t see anything on the ground systems that concerns us.”

NASA said there was no damage to the spacecraft or launch facilities.

If the countdown is stopped for any reason, NASA has set September 2 and 5 as possible backup start dates.

Manuel Rapalo of Al Jazeera said the excitement of the spectators at Cape Canaveral was palpable.

“Years overdue, and billions over budget, the time is almost here for the launch of Artemis I, with more than 100,000 people expected to participate, all crossing their fingers for a successful launch,” he said.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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