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Artemis I Mission Takes Off for the Moon

Artemis I Take Off.jpg
NASA/Bill Ingalls
NASA’s Space Launch System rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft launched at 1:47am ET from Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center, Wednesday, Nov. 16.
Artemis I tight shot.jpg
NASA/Joel Kowsky
NASA’s Artemis I mission is the first integrated flight test of the agency’s deep space exploration systems: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and ground systems.

Florida - Wednesday November 16, 2022: After two scrubbed attempts, the Artemis I mission successfully took off from Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center at 1:47 a.m. Wednesday morning.

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket in the world, propelled the un-crewed Orion spacecraft on a journey around the Moon and back for a splashdown in the Pacific 25 days from now.

After reaching its initial orbit Wednesday, the Orion deployed its solar arrays and engineers began performing checkouts of the spacecraft’s systems. Then, about 1.5 hours into flight, the rocket’s upper stage engine successfully fired for approximately 18 minutes to give Orion the big push needed to send it out of Earth orbit and toward the Moon.

Orion has now separated from its upper stage and is on its outbound coast to the Moon powered by its service module, which is the propulsive powerhouse provided by ESA (European Space Agency) through an international collaboration.

“It’s taken a lot to get here, but Orion is now on its way to the Moon,” said Jim Free, NASA deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. “This successful launch means NASA and our partners are on a path to explore farther in space than ever before for the benefit of humanity.”

This is the first leg of the Artemis I mission during which the Orion spacecraft will travel approximately 40,000 miles beyond the Moon and return to Earth. Artemis I is a critical part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration plan. It’s an important test for the agency before flying a crew of astronauts on the Artemis II mission.

“What an incredible sight to see NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft launch together for the first time. This un-crewed flight test will push Orion to the limits in the rigors of deep space, helping us prepare for human exploration on the Moon and, ultimately, Mars,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

Through Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the surface of the Moon, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence and serving as a steppingstone for astronauts on the way to Mars.