NASA’s New Launch Date For Its Artemis-1 Moon Mission Is Next Week

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The advance of Tropical Storm Nicole on the Florida space coast has forced space agency NASA to once again delay the launch of its landmark Artemis I mission to the Moon. However, it will still be a spectacular night launch.

Making landfall as a Category 1 storm though later downgraded to a tropical storm, Nicole brought sustained winds, rain and power outages to Florida on Thursday, just four days before the planned launch of Artemis I on Monday, November 14. at 12:07 a.m. EST.

The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion capsule—already on the launch pad—experienced 100 mph winds, which is higher than the 85 mph the hardware is designed to cope with, said NASA.

The mission will now launch—weather permitting—on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 at 1:04 a.m. EST. It’s a two-hour window that would mean the mission lasts 25 days. NASA also announced a backup launch opportunity on Saturday, November 19, 2022.

The Artemis I mission is the first test of the NASA’s deep space exploration systems—the SLS and the Orion space capsule—together. The latter will be uncrewed for this test flight, though Artemis II mission—scheduled for 2023—will take four astronauts on an identical journey around the Moon and back.

If it does successfully launch on November 16 then the Orion capsule will splashdown on Sunday, December 11, 2022.

Planned launches in late August and early September were both scrubbed due to technical problems before Hurricane Ian prevented a launch attempts in late September and early October.

Artemis I failed to launch for the second time on September 3, 2022 from Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida after the SLS suffered a leak in a liquid hydrogen valve. The previous scrub on August 29 had been due to a faulty sensor on an engine cooling system.

When Artemis I does finally lift-off it will embark on a 1.3 million miles (2.1 million kilometers) journey around the Moon and back again. Orion will enter an elliptical orbit of the Moon that will see them get to within 62 miles above its surface and about 40,000 miles beyond it. That’s farther than any spacecraft built for astronauts has ever flown. It will then return for an even closer flyby the Moon on its way home.

The SLS is a largest rocket ever constructed—and that includes the agency’s Saturn V “Moon rocket,” which was last used in 1973. Standing 322 ft. high, the SLS is also a “Moon rocket” with 8.8 million pounds (3.9 million kg) of thrust.

Artemis I is the first of three missions on the schedule, with Artemis II in 2024 slated to take four crew and Artemis III due to take two astronauts to the lunar surface in 2025 or later.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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