‘Twas the day before launch and all across the globe, people await liftoff for Artemis I with hope.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft with its European Service Module, is seen here on Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, on 12 November.
After much anticipation, NASA launch authorities have given the GO for the first opportunity for launch: tomorrow, 16 November with a two-hour launch window starting at 07:04 CET (06:04 GMT, 1:04 local time).
Artemis I is the first mission in a large programme to send astronauts around and on the Moon sustainably. This uncrewed first launch will see the Orion spacecraft travel to the Moon, enter an elongated orbit around our satellite and then return to Earth, powered by the European-built service module that supplies electricity, propulsion, fuel, water and air as well as keeping the spacecraft operating at the right temperature.
The European Service Modules are made from components supplied by over 20 companies in ten ESA Member States and USA. As the first European Service Module sits atop the SLS rocket on the launchpad, the second is only 8 km away being integrated with the Orion crew capsule for the first crewed mission – Artemis II. The third and fourth European Service Modules – that will power astronauts to a Moon landing – are in production in Bremen, Germany.
With a 16 November launch, the three-week Artemis I mission would end on 11 December with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. The European Service Module detaches from the Orion Crew Module before splashdown and burns up harmlessly in the atmosphere, its job complete after taking Orion to the Moon and back safely.
Backup Artemis I launch dates include 19 November. Check ESA’s Orion blog for updates and more details. Watch the launch live on ESA Web TV from 15 Nov, 20:30 GMT (21:30 CET) when the rocket fuelling starts, and from 16 November 00:00 GMT/01:00 CET for the launch coverage.