NASA's historic Artemis 1 mission finally took off for the Moon from Florida in the early hours of Wednesday after two hurricanes and two months of delay because of technical issues. The spacecraft comprises the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and pioneering Orion capsule.
The launch marks the beginning of increasingly complex missions to the Moon. Despite being uncrewed, Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of the deep space exploration systems that will take astronauts to the Moon.
This is the US space agency's first flight of a crew-capable moon ship in nearly 50-years. It serves as the proving ground to see if SLS and Orion are ready to help return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2025 under NASA's ambitious Artemis program.
Most Powerful Space Rocket in History
Artemis 1, according to NASA, is the most powerful rocket in the world, designed to send humans to deep space. With the height of 322 feet, it weighed 5.75 million pounds during liftoff. During liftoff, it produced a maximum 8.8 million pounds of thrust, exerted more power than any rocket ever.
Information on NASA portal says that every state in America has contributed to building Artemis. Companies worked hard to build the systems to help establish a long-term human presence at the Moon. NASA said contributions from men and women across America and Europe are critical to the space economy, fuelling new industries and technologies.
Back to the Moon and Beyond
"We rise together, back to the moon and beyond," cheered NASA commentator Derrol Nail during the webcast of the launch. Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis launch director, said this is the moment. "We are all part of something incredibly special: the first launch of Artemis, the first step in returning our country to the moon and on to Mars. What you have done today will inspire generations to come."
On Monday, Jeremy Parsons, deputy manager of NASA's Exploration Ground Systems program at KSC, said the work the Artemis mission team has performed in order to get SLS off the ground following the storm has been incredible. "If you were to ask me a couple of weeks ago, would we go through a storm like Hurricane Nicole and then be able to turn around and have cleared the vehicle and be in good shape, I would have said, hey, chances are probably low. But this team has really just been firing on all cylinders."
NASA's Artemis 1 mission manager Mike Sarafin said it's a new creation. "It is a new rocket and a new spacecraft." He said it's something that has never been done in over 50 years and is incredibly difficult.