Nasa plans to launch the most powerful rocket the world has ever seen for a mission to the Moon

NASA prepares to launch Artemis 1 as it prepares to bring Americans back to the surface of the Moon

The first lunar rocket launched by NASA in five decades is scheduled to lift off as early as August 29 from Kennedy Space Center on the Florida coast.

NASA is preparing to launch the Space Launch System unmanned rocket and Orion capsule as part of the agency’s Artemis I mission which plans to return American astronauts to the surface of the moon.

This mission is a testing ground for technologies that could eventually lead to a landing on Mars.

At the center of Artemis I is the Space Launch System aka SLS, NASA’s largest rocket project since Saturn V.

The SLS launch is scheduled to take place at 8:33 a.m. Eastern Time on August 29 from Launch Pad 39B. The launch has a two-hour window.

If weather conditions delay the launch beyond the window, other possible dates for liftoff are September 2 and 5.

If all goes as planned, NASA plans to launch Artemis II in 2023, a manned flyby of the lunar surface before landing American astronauts on the surface in 2025 as part of Artemis III.

Nasa plans to launch the most powerful rocket the world has ever seen for a mission to the Moon

This mission is a testing ground for technologies that could eventually lead to a landing on Mars

This mission is a testing ground for technologies that could eventually lead to a landing on Mars

The SLS launch is scheduled to take place at 8:33 a.m. Eastern Time on August 29 from Launch Pad 39B.  The launch has a two-hour window

The SLS launch is scheduled to take place at 8:33 a.m. Eastern Time on August 29 from Launch Pad 39B. The launch has a two-hour window

In the commander's seat will be attached Commander Moonikin Campos - a tribute to electrical engineer Arturo Campos, who played a key role in the safe return of the troubled Apollo 13 mission to Earth in 1970

In the commander’s seat will be attached Commander Moonikin Campos – a tribute to electrical engineer Arturo Campos, who played a key role in the safe return of the troubled Apollo 13 mission to Earth in 1970

The rocket is very sensitive to weather conditions, and NASA must consider temperature, window, and rain before allowing launch.

According to the launch mission execution forecast: “While the overall lightning threat appears low, this onshore flow regime will favor scattered showers in Atlantic waters through the launch window.”

“As a result, the primary weather concerns for a Monday morning attempt will be the Cumulus Cloud Rule, the Surface Electric Field Rule, and the constraint of flying through precipitation,” the launch weather officer wrote.

A NASA spokesperson suggested that the conditions that would typically lead to the cancellation of a manned launch might not apply to an unmanned launch.

Project Artemis will see astronauts land on the Moon every year until the end of the decade, starting in 2025. At that point, the price of Project Artemis will have jumped to $93 billion.

These astronauts will build a space station and a base at the lunar south pole. The technologies used in this mission will be used to help NASA in its ultimate goal, a manned expedition to Mars. These missions are planned for the early 2040s.

About 10,000 people are expected to show up to watch the launch in person, many at Space View Park in Titusville and Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral.

About 10,000 people are expected to show up to watch the launch in person, many at Space View Park in Titusville and Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral.

The rocket will take dummy astronauts, including a woman, with it to reflect NASA's wish to send a woman to walk on the Moon in the near future

The rocket will take dummy astronauts, including a woman, with it to reflect NASA’s wish to send a woman to walk on the Moon in the near future

The project has been well over budget since its inception. In 2012, the cost to build the SLC was estimated at $6 billion, and each launch would cost $500 million.

As of August 2022, the rocket’s construction bill was $20 billion while launches will cost $4.1 billion, CNBC reports.

If Artemis I is successful, it will hover 60 miles above the surface of the Moon, in 2024 Artemis II will perform a lunar flyby with four astronauts on board. By 2025, astronauts should set foot on the Moon.

NASA’s inspector general said earlier this year that 2026 was a more realistic target for human moon landings.

In a week, if all goes according to plan, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida will see the first lunar mission since Apollo 17 finally lifted off into space.

In a week, if all goes according to plan, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida will see the first lunar mission since Apollo 17 finally lifted off into space.

A Chinese rover pictured in 2019 after landing on the Moon.  The nation hopes to one day establish a base on its lunar surface

A Chinese rover pictured in 2019 after landing on the Moon. The nation hopes to one day establish a base on its lunar surface

The Artemis III, which will be the title of the moon landing mission, will eventually feature a capsule made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. In 2021, Musk secured a $2.9 billion contract from NASA to develop the project.

These astronauts would be the first to walk on the surface since 1972.

The SLS has similarities to the Space Shuttle in that it has two solid rocket boosters on each side containing liquid hydrogen and oxygen.

The thrusters give the SLS, which will weigh 5.7 million pounds when fully powered, nearly nine million pounds of thrust. That’s about 15% more than Saturn V. It’s capable of lifting 90 tons into Earth orbit and 27 tons to the Moon.

After the launch of Artemis I, the SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever launched. The current iteration of the rocket is named Block 1. The next version will be named Block 1B.

At launch, it will be accompanied by the Orion module, be over 320 feet tall and hold over 700,000 gallons of cryogenic fuel.

Orion, manufactured by Lockheed-Martin, is the landing craft that will be used by astronauts to bring them to the Moon. Although similar in appearance to the landing craft used by early Apollo astronauts, it is larger on the inside and equipped with the latest technology.

Astronauts can survive inside the capsule for up to 21 days without needing to dock anywhere.

Similar to its Apollo ancestor, the Orion has a heat shield that protects astronauts from the friction caused by re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

The craft will land using parachutes slowing it from 25,000 miles per hour to about 20 miles per hour to return astronauts safely to earth in the Pacific Ocean near Baja California.

The total duration of the Artemis I mission is 42 days, during which it will travel 1.3 million miles. Its main objective is to ensure that the rocket performs as intended before the astronauts embark in 2023.

NASA's Artemis rocket with the Orion spacecraft on board currently sits on pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center

NASA’s Artemis rocket with the Orion spacecraft on board currently sits on pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center

During the mission, the SLS will launch the Orion where it will hover approximately 60 miles above the Moon’s surface. There will be three mannequins on board as NASA tries to determine what effects the trip will have on the human body.

Crucially, at the end of the mission, NASA scientists will be monitoring how Orion is coping with its return to earth as it re-enters the atmosphere at 30 times the speed of sound.

NASA officials said testing Orion’s heat shield was the most important part of the mission.

At a press conference on August 3, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, “It’s an ablative heat shield, and the only way to test it is to take it out and put it on. let in at 32 Mach.”

He continued, “Orion will return faster and hotter than any spacecraft before.”

About 10,000 people are expected to show up to watch the launch in person, many at Space View Park in Titusville and Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral.

The launch will be streamed live on NASA.gov, NASA TV through the agency’s social media accounts, and on YouTube.

The Artemis Real-time Orbit (AROW) website will provide images, data and all the latest news, while allowing space fans to determine where Orion is and track its distance from Earth, the distance from the Moon, duration of the mission, etc. ‘

NASA prepares to launch Artemis 1 as it prepares to bring Americans back to the surface of the Moon

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