In brief

The countdown has started for the first human-rated launch to the Moon in over half a century. ESA’s European Service Module will be powering the Orion spacecraft to our natural satellite and back.


Watch the most powerful rocket ever built launch on 29 August from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. Teams on Earth have a two-hour window from 14:33 CEST to initiate liftoff, so the orbits of our planet and the Moon are aligned for the Artemis I mission.

Two more dates are available if liftoff is not possible on 29 August. The Artemis Moon mission can also be launched on 2 and 5 September.

The countdown to launch includes a large amount of fuel loaded into NASA’s Space Launch System rocket SLS. Tanking starts eight hours before launch with the flight director asking for a “go” 15 minutes before launch.

Follow the livestream on ESA Web TV starting at 12:30 CEST (11:30 BST).

This journey will serve as a test of both the Orion spacecraft and its SLS rocket ahead of crewed flights to the Moon. No crew will be on board Orion this time, and the spacecraft will be controlled by teams on Earth. The second Artemis mission will see four astronauts travel around the Moon on a flyby voyage around our natural satellite.

The European Service Module – or ESM – provides for all astronauts’ basic needs, such as water, oxygen, nitrogen, temperature control, power and propulsion. Much like a train engine pulls passenger carriages and supplies power, the European Service Module will take the Orion capsule to its destination and back.

  • ESA also photo