NASA’s Artemis Space Launch System is seeing more preparations than before, with the first component going up this past week with much excitement and enthusiasm. At the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA is working hard to put together this new space launch system in preparation for a mission set to take place next year. While NASA has a long way to go, the fact that the first foundation has been laid is a good sign that the mission will take place as expected despite a particularly tumultuous year.
The Artemis Space Launch System Rocket has several features that make it the first of its kind, and it holds a lot of promise in terms of that which it can achieve. Now, we’ll take a deeper look at its purpose and capabilities so that you can know what to expect from NASA in the coming year.
The Artemis Space Launch System Rocket
Set to launch in November of 2021, the Artemis 1 is the first rocket to be launched by the Artemis Space Launch System. It’s a test flight that will go without a crew, and it’s a heavy-lift rocket belonging to the Orion MPVC. The mission will last for 26 days, during which time it will orbit the moon. When the test flight is complete, and shown to be a success, a crewed mission will follow, known as the Artemis 2, which will also orbit the moon, and is set for 2023.
The purpose of this project is to gather more information about the moon, during a time when we’re learning more about its materials and climate than ever before. Materials and other data will be gathered and brought back to Earth for study. The crew will consist of four members, with many of the latest NASA-developed instruments accompanying them for research and recording purposes.
This project is particularly significant because if all goes according to plan, it will facilitate the first landing on the moon by man since 1972. Of course, a lot has changed in the last nearly five decades, and we now have better means for recording data about the moon. We also have better technology to get us there, and the Artemis series exemplifies this.
In order to get there, the rocket will be launched via the Artemis Space Launch System, touched upon earlier, which is being constructed as we speak. The Artemis 1 is a massive rocket, being far larger than any other that has traveled to the moon, and so developers are being extra careful when creating the launch system that will facilitate this journey. For comparison, the rocket will be taller than the Statue of Liberty, which is 305 feet. The rocket requires 15% more thrust than what is considered standard, and is the result of years of careful research and engineering to make this mission possible. Each booster will be close to half the length of a typical football field, to give you an idea of just how many resources must go into completing this project.
What We Can Expect
The fact that the first piece has been stacked to signal construction of the launch system is a good sign, especially during a year when just about everything has been wildly off-schedule. It signals that things are going according to plan, that NASA is maintaining maximum faith in the capabilities of the mission and that they have the resources to continue going forward with the operation.
Currently, the next of the ten pieces is being prepared to be stacked, and the rest should follow according to schedule. Again, the Artemis 1 launch is just under twelve months away, and so we still need to wait a year before determining whether or not all of these efforts have indeed paid off. But, given the resources put behind the project, we, along with NASA, have remarkably high hopes.
After the first mission, we must wait two years until we can really see what this particular project can do. Since the first mission is an uncrewed test, we won’t have access to new data regarding the moon until 2023, when the Artemis 2 is officially launched with a designated crew designed to gather information. But, when it does finally happen, it will be spectacular both for its historic significance and that which it can provide in terms of insight regarding the moon that we have still yet to answer. The image of another astronaut touching down on the moon is one that never fails to inspire and will be worthwhile in and of itself.
Until then, you can continue to track the progress of the Artmeis Space Launch System, as NASA has provided continuous updates and will keep doing so. More information is available on their website.