Artemis I – Orion spacecraft launched on a journey beyond the Moon and back

artemis 1 sls mega rocket launch november 16 2022 f

The Space Launch System (SLS) mega rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard lifted off at 06:47 UTC (01:47 EST) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, U.S. on November 16, 2022.

  • SLS is a super-heavy-lift rocket — the most powerful rocket ever built. It provides the foundation for human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit.
  • The launch sent NASA’s Orion spacecraft and ESA’s European Service Module (ESM) on a journey beyond the Moon and back.
  • No crew will be on board Orion this time, and the spacecraft will be controlled by teams on Earth.
  • ESM provides for all astronauts’ basic needs, such as water, oxygen, nitrogen, temperature control, power and propulsion. The module will take the Orion capsule to its destination and back.

The launch is the first leg of a mission in which Orion is planned to travel approximately 65 000 km (40 000 miles) beyond the Moon and return to Earth over the course of 25.5 days.

This mission is known as Artemis I. It’s a critical part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach and an important test for the agency before flying astronauts on the Artemis II mission.

Artemis I

Artemis I launch photo album

After reaching its initial orbit, Orion deployed its solar arrays and engineers began performing checkouts of the spacecraft’s systems.

About 1.5 hours into flight, the rocket’s upper stage engine successfully fired for approximately 18 minutes to give Orion the big push needed to send it out of Earth orbit and toward the Moon.1

YouTube video
YouTube video

According to NASA, Artemis missions will land the first woman and the first person of color on the surface of the Moon, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence and serving as a stepping stone for astronauts on the way to Mars.

artemis 1 sls moon rocket
YouTube video


1 Liftoff! NASA’s Artemis I Mega Rocket Launches Orion to Moon – NASA – November 16, 2022

Featured image credit: NASA


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