Get the popcorn out! On Monday morning, Aug. 29th at 8:33 am EDT, the most powerful rocket ever built will blast off from Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39B to the Moon. This is the beginning of NASA’s Artemis program.
Artemis I will not carry any astronauts. It’s a test flight. Only mannequins; 2 of them made of material simulating human tissue will measure cosmic radiation, one of the biggest risks of spaceflight:
Propelled by a 32-story tall rocket with 8.8 million pounds of thrust, Artemis I will exit Earth’s atmosphere in only 2 minutes. Less than 2 hours after that, the unoccupied Orion crew capsule will be burning straight for the Moon.
Over the course of its 42 day mission, Orion will orbit the Moon for more than a week (approaching the lunar surface within 62 miles) and travel 40,000 miles beyond the far side of the Moon before turning back to Earth.
The capsule will stay in space longer than any human spacecraft has without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before. Indeed, a key goal of the mission is to test Orion’s heat shield when it slams into Earth’s atmosphere at 25,000 mph and heats up to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
If all goes well, future launches will carry crew. Astronauts will orbit the Moon in 2024 (Artemis II), then touch down near the Moon’s south pole in 2025 (Artemis III). The moonwalkers will include the first woman to step onto the lunar surface.
Live coverage of the launch begins on Monday, Aug. 29th, at 6:30 am EDT.
Another conspiracy? But still have your popcorn ready…