The final day for US-based space agency NASA has arrived as it is all geared up to kickstart its Artemis Program wherein the Space Launch System (SLS rocket) will liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) under Artemis 1 mission.
According to NASA, the mega-rocket will launch during a two-hour launch window opening at 11:34 am IST as the world's most powerful rocket to ever reach orbit. Standing 322 feet tall, the SLS rocket is currently at the Launch Complex 39B of the KSC integrated with the Orion spacecraft.
The name is derived from the Greek goddess Artemis, who is also the twin sister of Apollo. As we know, Apollo was NASA's Program that saw astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. The Artemis Program, on the other hand, is being kickstarted with Artemis I and will send astronauts back to the Moon under Artemis III planned for 2025.
Notably, this launch comes 50 years after NASA’s famed Apollo moon mission, which is still considered to be the US space agency's greatest achievement. Let's find out significant facts about NASA's Historic Moon Mission Artemis:-
Facts about NASA's Historic Moon Mission Artemis
- The Artemis 1 launch is an uncrewed flight test that will lay the foundation for sending humans back to the moon. The Orion Spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is the first integrated test of NASA's deep space exploration.
- With a maximum thrust capacity of 8.8 million pounds, the SLS rocket will become the most powerful launch vehicle to ever liftoff from the Earth. Standing 322 feet tall, the rocket is capable of transporting 27 metric tonnes of payload including four astronauts in deep space. According to NASA, it is 15% more powerful than the Saturn V rocket used during the Apollo missions.
- The twin rocket boosters will burn for the first two minutes after launch and consume over two million pounds of solid propellant to create seven million pounds of thrust.
- The Orion Crew Module will fly farther than any human-rated spacecraft has ever flown. According to the mission profile, Orion will get as close as 100 km above the lunar surface, but will use the Moon's gravity to fly around 64,000 km (40,000 miles) beyond the Moon. At its farthest point, Orion will be 4,50,000 kilometers (280,000 miles) from the Earth and will travel over two million kilometres during the 42-day-long mission.
- Under Artemis I, Orion will become the first solar-powered spacecraft to be used for exploration missions. The spacecraft's solar panels, which would span 62 feet after unfurling, consist of 15,000 solar cells and would produce 11 KW of power for the Crew Module.
- The uncrewed Orion spacecraft consists of three mannequins that are launched to gather crucial data to be used during future astronaut missions. One of these mannequins is the 'Moonikin Campos' which has been named after NASA engineer Arturo Campos and is equipped with sensors to gather data on spaceflight such as the effects of vibrations during a rocket launch. The other two are female torsos named Helga and Zohar that will don a special radiation suit named 'AstroRad' that will measure the amount of radiation astronauts would experience during their lunar trip inside Orion.
- The spacecraft is also carrying 10,000 items that are part of NASA's Official Flight Kit (OFK).
- By 2024, humans will once again take a step on the Moon.
- In August, NASA had to delay the launch of the SLS rocket due to a temperature issue in one of the four RS-25 engines.