Photograph of the Artemis I Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion space capsule,inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA,s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Image Source: NASA)
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
NASA's new rocket and space capsule, which will return humans to the Moon including the first woman and the first astronaut of color, will have the official roll-out to the launch pad on Thursday. The mission of Artemis I will be an uncrewed mission around the Moon; anyone can add their name to a flash-drive that will be included in this first mission.
The launch of Artemis I is expected in the late Spring or Summer.
Formerly known as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), Artemis I is the first mission of NASA's Artemis Space Program. Artemis was conceived to take humans back to the Moon, this time for Americans to have a permanent presence on the Moon. In addition to “paving the way for a long-term lunar presence”, NASA describes the Artemis Space Program “as a steppingstone on the way to Mars.”
The Artemis I mission, the first test flight of Artemis, is expected to last 25.5 days. For 6 of those days, Artemis I will be in a retrograde orbit around Earth's Moon, before returning to Earth. This mission will certify the Orion space vehicle and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for crewed flights. The second Artemis test flight, Artemis 2, which will take astronauts around the Moon and back to Earth, has an anticipated launch in May of 2024, assuming there are no major problems with Artemis I.
The roll-out of NASA's “mega-rocket” to the Moon, known as “the integrated Space Launch System rocket”, along with the Orion space capsule, will begin at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 21:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on Thursday, 2022 May 17. This St. Patrick's Day event will last between 6 and 12 hours as the rocket travels the 4 miles from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. According to a NASA news release, this roll-out event “will include live remarks from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other guests.”
Live coverage of this event can be found on NASA Television, the NASA App, and the NASA web-site. An Internet link to live coverage of the event can be found near the end of this blog-post.
NASA fans and space enthusiasts have the opportunity to have their name included on a computer flash-drive, which will be included on the Artemis I mission around the Moon. An Internet link to the NASA web-page, which will allow all interested persons to add their name to this flash-drive, can be found near the end of this blog-post.
Brief History of NASA's Human Space Flight Programs
The Apollo Space Program of the late 1960s and early 1970s was America's first program to land humans on the Moon. In Greek mythology, Artemis was the twin of Apollo. Artemis was the Greek goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals, chastity, AND the Moon. Hence, Artemis is a very appropriate name for the program to take humans back to the Moon.
Apollo 8, which orbited the Moon in December of 1968 but without a landing, was actually the first crewed mission to the Moon. It was Sunday, 1969 July 20 that brought the historic landing and first human footprints on the Moon during the mission of Apollo 11.
The Apollo Space Program had been preceded by the Mercury and Gemini programs, which helped teach us how to fly in Deep Space. Also, there were several uncrewed missions into Earth orbit and to the Moon, such as the Surveyor Space Program which landed several spacecraft on the Moon.
After Earth landing of the Apollo 17 mission, on 1972 December 19, a human presence on the Moon ended for more than 50 years. The originally planned Apollo 18, 19, and 20 missions to the Moon were canceled to save money.
America's first space station, Skylab, was operated with three missions between May of 1973 and February of 1974. NASA studied possible additional missions to Skylab, but none came to fruition. Although expected to stay in orbit until at least the early 1980s, additional solar activity of the era caused additional atmospheric drag on Skylab, which resulted in the de-orbit of the space station in July of 1979 with some remnants falling near Perth, Australia.
The Apollo 18 mission was re-branded as the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, a mission which resulted in the docking of an Apollo spacecraft with the Russian Soyuz space capsule on 1975 July 17. In addition to being the first crewed international space mission, this mission is generally considered the end of the Space Race between the United States and Russia, which had begun with the launch of the Russian satellite Sputnik on 1957 October 4.
After several years without an American presence in Outer Space, the Space Shuttle Challenger (mission Space Transportation System 1 or STS-1) launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on 1981 April 12 as the first mission of the Space Shuttle Program. While the Space Shuttle launched like a typical rocket, the Space Shuttle returned to Earth as a non-powered glider, landing on an extended runway at Cape Canaveral, as well as at a few other alternate locations. The last Space Shuttle mission, STS-135, occurred 2011 July 21.
During the Space Shuttle era, construction of the International Space Station (ISS) began in November of 1998. The first crew started residing on the International Space Station in November of 2000. The International Space Station may be retired by the end of the current decade, unless members of the private sector decide to keep it flying.
Following the retirement of the Space Shuttle, American astronauts leased space on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to reach the International Space Station. This continued until 2020 May 30 when the SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 became the first mission to launch, into Earth orbit, American astronauts from American soil, since the retirement of the Space Shuttle.
Internet Link to Live Coverage of Artemis I Roll-Out: Link >>> https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive
Internet Link to NASA Web-Page to Add Name to Artemis I Flash-Drive: https://www.nasa.gov/send-your-name-with-artemis/
Internet Links to Additional Information ---
Artemis Space Program:
Link 1 >>> https://www.nasa.gov/specials/artemis/
Artemis I: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemis_1
Artemis 2: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemis_2
Moon: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon
Tuesday, 2022 March 15.
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Glenn A. Walsh, Informal Science Educator &
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Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: Link >>> http://www.planetarium.cc Buhl Observatory: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: Link >>> http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: Link >>> http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc