NASA to Roll out Lunar Mission Artemis I, Expected to Be the World’s Most Powerful Rocket

NASA's Artemis I
Artemis I stack after complete platform retraction. Image by NASA/Wikicommons

Artemis I, NASA’s next lunar mission, is moving closer to a launch date. This Thursday, March 17, NASA officials revealed at a press briefing that the stacked spacecraft and rocket have been approved for prelaunch testing at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

NASA’s “Mega Moon Rocket”

Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, often known as NASA’s “Mega Moon rocket,” will carry Orion from Kennedy’s Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39B if weather conditions allow.

As reported by Live Science, NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program launch director at Kennedy, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, said during a briefing that the rollout will begin at 5 p.m. local time and that the rocket will arrive at its destination after 11 hours on the Crawler-Transporter 2, which will move at a stately 0.8-mph (1.3-km/h) rolling speed.

NASA’s Orion spacecraft can carry up to four people, but the Artemis I mission will go place without any humans on board later this year. Orion will carry men into orbit, sustain them during moon trips, and protect them on re-entry from deep space in future Artemis missions.

Block 1 configuration for Artemis I mission

As soon as it starts flying, it will likely be the most powerful rocket ever built. More than 27 metric tons or 59,500 pounds can be lifted into orbits beyond the moon in its first form, known as Block 1.

According to Newsweek, the rocket’s deep space payload capability will be increased to 46 metric tons or 101,400 pounds in the Block 2 version. Block 1 will have a height of 322 feet and a mass of 5.75 million pounds. As per the NASA datasheet, this is not quite as tall as the iconic Saturn V rocket that flew people to the moon under the Apollo program in the 1960s, but it will be capable of delivering 15% greater thrust.

The rocket isn’t ready for a moon mission at this point in time. In the first place, NASA plans to launch  Artemis I this summer. A wet dress rehearsal, in which the rocket is pumped full of fuel and ready for launch before the engines ignite, is one of the numerous tests that will be conducted before that.

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