Science & Technology

Artemis I moon mission rocket arrives at launch pad

Miami, Aug 17 (EFE).- The huge rocket that will carry the unmanned Artemis I mission into space arrived Wednesday morning at its launch pad in Cape Canaveral, from where it will lift off for the Moon on Aug. 29.

The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion capsule poised on top of it arrived at Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center at 7:30 am after being transferred from the assembly hangar elsewhere in the Florida coastal complex, a slow and careful journey that took about 10 hours.

Mounted on the Crawler-Transporter 2 rolling platform, the 322-foot (98-meter) rocket and the 26-foot (8-meter) capsule made the journey of four miles (6.5 km) from the hangar to the launch pad without incident at a speed of just one mile per hour (1.6 km per hr).

“In the coming days, engineers and technicians will configure systems at the pad for launch,” NASA said Wednesday on its blog dedicated to the Artemis program as the rocket was brought out of the Vehicle Assembly Building about 9:30 pm on Tuesday.

The transfer was accomplished after on the weekend NASA engineers and technicians successfully completed testing the “flight termination system,” which is designed to destroy the rocket in case of an emergency.

The US space agency has set Aug. 29 as the tentative date for liftoff of the Artemis I mission to the Moon. The Orion capsule will orbit the Moon and then return to Earth 42 days after being launched.

By the time the capsule lands on Oct. 10 in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego, California, it will have traveled 1.3 million miles and reportedly will have remained unattached to a space station for longer than any other space vehicle.

“Artemis I will be an uncrewed test flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft around the Moon. The primary goals for this test flight are to demonstrate Orion’s systems and thus ensure a safe journey to the Moon and back for the first crewed flight on Artemis II,” says NASA on its Web page for this space program.

The Artemis II mission, scheduled for 2024, will make the same Earth-Moon journey, albeit with a crew on board, and in 2025 NASA plans to land astronauts on the Moon with the Artemis III mission, the first NASA mission to take humans to Earth’s satellite in more than half a century.

The last mission on which NASA astronauts set foot on the Moon was Apollo 17, which lifted off on Dec. 7, 1972, and returned to earth 12 days later.

EFE lce/eat/bp

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