NASA’s Successful Launch Begins Artemis I Mission

Volunteer Writer: Mckenzie Ferrari

Email: mferrari@umassd.edu

“On behalf of all the men and women across our great nation who have worked to bring this hardware together to make this day possible, and for the Artemis generation: this is for you. I give you a go to resume count and launch Artemis I.”

In the early hours of November 16th, 2022, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, launch director for NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program, gave the initial all-clear to begin the launch procedures of the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket

The launch of the Orion spacecraft marks the beginning of NASA’s thrilling new Artemis I mission, which is the first in a series of increasingly complicated Artemis missions to establish a continuous human presence on the Moon.

(Orion Snaps a Selfie During External Inspection; image via nasa.gov)

The last time any human touched the surface of the Moon was in December 1972 during NASA’s Apollo 17 mission

There were supposed to be three additional Apollo missions; however, these missions were canceled after enthusiasm for Apollo 11’s political importance died down, and developments in technology were no longer deemed a priority by the government.

The research and technology developed during the Artemis missions, as well as a continuous human presence on the Moon, will allow future missions to extend their reach farther, such as sending the first astronauts to Mars.

Ten minutes after Blackwell-Thompson’s initial all-clear, Orion and the SLS rocket – which propels the Orion spacecraft through Earth’s atmosphere – officially launched into space at 128 miles per hour, quickly reaching 1,420 miles per hour just seconds later.

(Orion Approaches Moon for Outbound Powered Flyby; image via nasa.gov)

After 25 days, the Artemis I mission will conclude with the splashdown of Orion, currently scheduled to occur on December 11th, 2022. The spacecraft will reach a speed of 24,500 miles per hour when re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.

“There are no constraints to launch.”

This phrase, which is typically stated during launch procedures, was unfortunately not uttered during the first-planned launch of Orion on August 29th, 2022. 

This launch was scrubbed due to several technical and weather-related issues. One such issue was a failed bleed test, which tests the temperature of the engines.

(Flight Day 6: Orion’s Optical Navigation Camera Captures Lunar Surface; image via nasa.gov)

While the scrubbed launch disappointed many Americans – and certainly those working at NASA – the successful launch on November 16th marked the start of one of the most historic missions in recent times. 

As part of the Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, a long overdue milestone.

To echo the words of NASA launch commentator Derrol Nail, “We rise together, back to the Moon and beyond!”

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