CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The countdown is on for NASA’s biggest test flight of the year.
At 10:23 a.m. EDT (2:23 p.m. GMT) today (August 27), the countdown began to NASA’s scheduled launch. Mission Artemis 1an ambitious first flight to the moon by the agency’s most powerful rocket ever – the Space Launch System (SLS) — and its Orion spacecraft. The uncrewed test flight is scheduled to launch Monday (August 29) at 8:33 a.m. EDT (1233 GMT) from Pad 39B here at Kennedy Space Center.
“This first launch is a new step in the plan of our sustainable exploration of the solar system“, Jim Free, NASA associate administrator for exploration systems development, told reporters here during a briefing on Friday. You can watch the launch of the Artemis 1 lunar mission live online, courtesy of NASA TV. A live webcast will begin Monday at 6:30 a.m. EDT (10:30 a.m. GMT).
Artemis 1 is NASA’s pioneering mission Artemis programwhich aims to bring astronauts back to the moon by 2025 and land the first woman and person of color at the lunar south pole, a region that astronauts have never seen with their own eyes. The mission flight will send an uncrewed Orion capsule on a 42-day trip to orbit the Moon and return to Earth to test if the spacecraft is ready to carry astronauts.
If this mission is successful, NASA will continue it with Artemis 2a crewed trip around the moon in 2024, which will then lead to the Artemis 3 crewed lunar landing a year later. The ultimate goal, NASA said, is to perform annual moon missions after Artemis 3, crewed landings from a Gateway space station in lunar orbit and then aim for crewed flights to March.
There is a 70% chance of good weather for the launch of Artemis 1, with scattered showers as the main concern, according to NASA (opens in a new tab) and the United States space force‘s Space Launch Delta 45 weather group. NASA has a two-hour window to launch Artemis 1 to allow some leeway if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.
During the two-day countdown to Artemis 1, NASA launch controllers will put the mission’s 322-foot-tall (98-meter) Space Launch System Megarocket and its Orion spacecraft through its paces. their last flight. Engineers closed the hatch of the Orion capsule for the last time on Thursday (August 25).
On Friday, engineers also closed the hatch to the SLS rocket’s launch abort system, which sits atop the Orion spacecraft, and retracted the crew access arm that astronauts will eventually use to ascend. aboard the spacecraft for future missions.
NASA will begin fueling the SLS rocket in the early hours of Monday morning, which NASA will webcast live at 12 p.m. EDT (0400 GMT). You can watch the event live on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, on our Artemis 1 webcast page.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the note that NASA’s Artemis 1 launch countdown has begun on schedule.