The launch day of Artemis I has arrived
Look to CNN for live coverage from Kennedy Space Center in Florida leading up to the Monday morning launch. Space correspondents Kristin Fisher and Rachel Crane will bring us instant reports on the launch with a team of experts.
Kennedy Space Center, Florida
It is a day that has taken years to prepare.
Launch day has finally arrived for the Artemis I uncrewed mission to lift off for a trip around the moon. Tune into the NASA website and TV channel to watch the final preparations and watch the launch.
Appearances by celebrities like Jack Black, Chris Evans and Keke Palmer and performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Josh Groban and Herbie Hancock and “America the Beautiful” by the Philadelphia Orchestra and cellist Yo-Yo Ma make also part of the program. .
It’s a sight to behold as the 322-foot-tall (98-foot-tall) stack, made up of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, glows in the early morning darkness at Kennedy Space Center in the NASA in Florida.
The stack sits on historic Launchpad 39B, where Apollo 10 and shuttle missions once took off.
Weather conditions remain 80% favorable for a launch at the start of a window that opens at 8:33 a.m. and closes at 10:33 a.m. ET, according to the latest forecast.
However, storms at sea with lightning potential prevented the team from starting the refueling process, which was scheduled to start at midnight, for over an hour.
The slipway was lifted at 1:13 a.m. ET and the refueling process began.
The rocket’s core stage will be loaded with supercold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen over the next few hours.
Currently, engineers are also working to find out what caused an 11-minute delay in communications between the Orion spacecraft and ground systems. The issue could impact the start of the terminal countdown, or the countdown that begins when there are 10 minutes left on the clock before takeoff. But engineers feel good about fixing the problem before the terminal count, according to NASA.
Orion’s journey will last 42 days as he travels to the moon, loops around it and returns to Earth – covering a total of 1.3 million miles (2.1 million kilometres). The capsule will dive into the Pacific Ocean off San Diego on October 10.
Although the passenger list does not include any humans, it does have passengers: three mannequins and a stuffed Snoopy toy will ride Orion.
The crew aboard Artemis I may seem a bit unusual, but they each have a purpose. Snoopy will serve as a weightlessness indicator, meaning he will begin floating inside the capsule once it reaches the space environment.
The dummies, named Commander Moonkin Campos, Helga and Zohar, will measure deep space radiation that future crews could experience and test new suit and shielding technology. A biological experiment carrying seeds, algae, fungi and yeasts is hidden inside Orion to also measure the reaction of life to this radiation.
Cameras inside and outside Orion will share images and video throughout the mission, including live views from the Callisto Experience, which will capture a feed of Commander Moonikin Campos seated in the commander’s seat. If you have an Amazon Alexa-enabled device, you can ask it for the mission’s location daily.
Expect to see views of Earthrise, similar to what was first shared during Apollo 8, but with much better cameras and technology.
Science experiments and technology demonstrations take place in a ring on the rocket. The 10 small satellites, called CubeSats, will detach and separate to collect information about the moon and the deep space environment.
The inaugural mission of the Artemis program will launch a phase of space exploration that will land various crews of astronauts in previously unexplored regions of the moon and ultimately offer crewed missions to Mars.
The rocket and spacecraft will be tested and put through their paces for the very first time before carrying astronauts to the moon on Artemis II and Artemis III, scheduled for 2024 and 2025 respectively.