By Sharon Challenger.
(November 21, 2022)—On November 16, 2022, the most powerful rocket in the world was launched by NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). The Orion spacecraft, as part of the Artemis Program, is on its way to the Moon. Liftoff took place at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1:47 a.m. EST.
Over a period of 25.5 days Orion will travel approximately 240,000 miles from Earth to the Moon, then over 40,000 miles beyond the Moon before it returns to Earth.
According to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, “This uncrewed flight test will push Orion to the limits in the rigors of deep space, helping us prepare for human exploration on the Moon and, ultimately, Mars.”
On Nov. 21, Orion is expected to have a close approach of the lunar surface before it moves to a distant retrograde orbit (DRO), thousands of miles beyond the Moon. A DRO is a highly stable orbit where less fuel is required.
“Artemis I is a true stress test of the Orion spacecraft in the deep space environment,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis Mission Manager. “Without crew aboard the first mission, DRO allows Orion to spend more time in deep space for a rigorous mission to ensure spacecraft systems, like guidance, navigation, communication, power, thermal control and others are ready to keep astronauts safe on future crewed missions.”
For more information click here: www.nasa.gov/specials/artemis/
Photos courtesy of NASA
Launch photo credit NASA/Bill Ingalls