NASA's Artemis 1 rocket launches to the moon

NASA’s Artemis 1 rocket launches to the moon

NASA’s Artemis lunar mission has successfully lifted off Earth, ushering in a new era of lunar exploration that will see humans eventually return to the moon.

After a series of failed launch attempts earlier in the year, Artemis 1 launched at 6:47 a.m. (1:47 a.m. local time) on NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, the most powerful ever, carrying the Orion spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center agency up florida.

“We’re rising together, back to the moon and beyond,” NASA’s official commentator said as the rocket lifted off.

The unmanned mission around the moon will pave the way for a manned flight test and future manned lunar exploration.

NASA’s new moon rocket lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral (Malcolm Denmark/Florida Today via AP)

NASA Flight Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson spoke to her colleagues at the Kennedy Space Center after liftoff.

She said: “You’re part of a premiere – it doesn’t happen often, maybe once in a career.

“We are all part of something incredibly special: the first launch of Artemis. The first step in our country’s return to the moon and on to Mars.

“What you did today will inspire generations to come.”

Ms Blackwell-Thompson, who had her tie cut in accordance with NASA tradition after the successful launch, added: “The harder the climb, the better the view. We showed Space Coast tonight what a beautiful prospect it is.”

(PA graphic)

Scientists and engineers from around the world, including the UK, were instrumental in the mission.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is a key partner in the program, supplying Orion’s Airbus-built European service module and elements of the orbiting Lunar Gateway.

Libby Jackson, Head of Space Research at the UK Space Agency, said: “The launch of the Artemis-1 mission is an extremely momentous moment for the global space community and paves the way for humanity to return to the moon in the years to come.

“We are proud to be a part of ESA contributing to this mission with the Orion service module and look forward to the UK’s direct involvement in the Lunar Gateway currently under development as part of ESA’s exploration programme.

“It is also exciting to see this mission being tracked in the UK from Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall, which represents a major step in our ability to offer commercial lunar communications from the UK.”

(PA graphic)

During the test flight, Goonhilly experts will provide operational support and help track the spacecraft and up to six of its 10 satellite payloads once in orbit.

Goonhilly Earth Station Chief Engineering Officer Matt Cosby said: “We look forward to contributing to this iconic mission from here in the UK.

“Goonhilly played a role in distributing footage of the Apollo moon landing in 1969; Now we’re going one step further and contributing to humanity’s return to the moon.

“Supporting Artemis is a fantastic opportunity to further demonstrate our capabilities as we continue to expand our commercial services in space.”

The 98m high Space Launch System rocket is designed to launch the Orion capsule, powered by the Airbus-built European Service Module (ESM), into orbit around the moon.

The flight, which will carry mannequins rather than astronauts, marks the next chapter in putting humans back on the moon.

Humans will be on board for subsequent missions, with the first manned flight into space planned for 2024.

The last manned mission to the moon was Apollo 17, which took place in December 1972.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the launch team was “part of a great legacy.”

The NASA chief added: “This legacy carries us now as we explore the skies. It didn’t end with Apollo 17 – this time we’re going back, we’re going to learn a lot of what we need to learn, and then we’re going to fly to Mars with humans.”

Mr Nelson said it was a priority for NASA to land the first woman and person of color on the moon through the mission because it “reflects America”.

For now, a more unconventional crew member is on board, with an animated puppet of Shaun the Sheep being launched into space on the rocket.

The mission is expected to last 25 days, including the outbound flight, trip around the moon and deployment of satellites, followed by a return flight before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean in December.

Named after the Greek moon goddess and sister of the god Apollo, who gave his name to NASA’s first lunar missions, the Artemis program envisages the construction of the Lunar Gateway – a new space station where astronauts can live and work.

The construction of the Lunar Gateway will involve key contributions from Thales Alenia Space UK (TAS-UK) and Imperial College London, supported by the UK Space Agency.

Mark Thomas, 33, from South Carolina, USA, watched the Banana Creek launch at Kennedy Space Center and shared a video of the moment on Twitter.

The teacher tweeted: “To witness the most phenomenal feat of engineering of our time. Worth the wait.

“Premium seating at Kennedy Space Center with some amazing engineers that put blood, sweat and tears into it. We fly back to the moon.”

Mr Thomas told the PA news agency: “Frankly stunned. It’s something you can’t really appreciate until you see and feel it. And you feel it The stands shook beneath our feet and the shockwave of sound pounded in your chest.

“I teach high school math and engineering, so I’ve always had a deep-rooted interest in problem solving and design… and the Artemis missions are the ultimate examples in those categories.”

#NASAs #Artemis #rocket #launches #moon

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