Sunday, 02 Apr 2023

Nasas Artemis 1, most powerful rocket in history, blasts off to moon

Nasas Artemis 1, most powerful rocket in history, blasts off to moon

Nasas Artemis 1, most powerful rocket in history, blasts off to moon

Two hurricanes, two months and a number of technical fixes since previous launch attempts were thwarted, and Nasa's Artemis 1, the most powerful space rocket in history, is finally on course for the moon after lifting off from Florida early on Wednesday.

The spacecraft, comprising the mighty Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and pioneering Orion capsule, lit the night sky as it rose from its Cape Canaveral launchpad at 1.47am ET. The 25-day, 1.3m-mile journey to the moon and back is Nasa's first crew-capable deep-space mission for half a century.

"On behalf of all the men and women across our great nation who have worked to bring this hardware together to make this day possible, and for the Artemis generation, this is for you," the launch director, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, said shortly after liftoff.

It was the first time that the Nasa SLS rocket and Nasa Orion have flown together. "Artemis I begins a new chapter in human lunar exploration," the Space agency tweeted.

No astronauts are aboard the Artemis 1 test flight. But it does contain three mannequins and a Snoopy soft toy gauging radiation levels and testing new life-preservation systems and equipment designed for the next generation of long-duration human spaceflight.

Success of the mission, which will culminate in a Pacific ocean splashdown on 11 December, is crucial to the Artemis 2 and 3 flights that will follow. Both will ferry humans to and from the moon, with the latter, scheduled for 2025 but expected to slip back a year, being the first crewed lunar landing since Apollo 17 in December 1972.

Artemis 3 will add a woman's name to the only 12 moonwalkers in history - all men from the Apollo flights between 1969 and 1972. A subsequent mission of Artemis, in Greek mythology the twin sister of Apollo, will land the first person of color, the space agency says.

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