NASA Launches Artemis Moon Rocket

The American space agency NASA launched its new Artemis Moon rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla. early Wednesday morning. The 100m-tall vehicle is the agency's most powerful rocket ever launched.

NASA Launches Artemis Moon Rocket
Image credit: Jonathan Amos BBC

Facts

  • The American space agency NASA launched its new Artemis Moon rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla. early Wednesday morning. The 100m-tall vehicle is the agency's most powerful rocket ever launched.
  • This marks the start of NASA's new flagship program following years of delays and billions in cost overruns. Artemis' debut flight carries three test dummies in the crew capsule, Orion, on its three-week flight orbit around the Moon. Orion will return to Earth with a splashdown in the Pacific in December.
  • This is the first time in 50 years that NASA has flown a rocket powerful enough to send humans beyond low Earth orbit. The purpose of the flight is to test whether the rocket and capsule will be able to transport humans safely, while conducting a number of scientific experiments, including measuring variables such as gravity and radiation exposure.
  • The launch had originally been scheduled for Aug. 29 but was postponed after one of the four engines failed to cool down. The rocket has since faced nearly three months of fuel leaks, with the latest one being plugged late Tuesday night.
  • NASA is collaborating with commercial and international partners such as Elon Musk's SpaceX and the space agencies of Europe, Canada, and Japan, aiming to eventually establish a long-term lunar base that would enable it to launch trips to Mars.
  • NASA has identified the lunar South Pole as a potential area for astronauts to land as part of the Artemis III mission, scheduled for 2025. That will be the first time astronauts will set foot on the Moon since NASA’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Sources: BBC News, Al Jazeera, Archive, Reuters, and Nasa.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Wired. Eventually, NASA will return astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972, including the first woman. As part of a long-term plan for a Moon-to-Mars exploration in the next 20 years, the Artemis project is an exciting test to see how close humanity is to reaching much further than the Moon in the decades to come.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Politico. Despite the long-term plan for the Artemis program this decade, only now is NASA creating a single management structure to handle its entirety. Whilst the intentions are exciting, there has clearly been a lack of administration that may have been left too late to fix before the planned personnel moon landing in 2025.

Predictions