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50 years after Apollo, Artemis stands poised to reach the stars

Posted at 10:51 PM, Aug 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-29 07:14:38-04

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — On Monday, NASA hopes to take a big step forward to getting man back on the moon with the launch of the Artemis I moon rocket.

Artemis I Launch

FOX 4 News is breaking down the details of the launch and will have Forrest Saunders live from Cape Canaveral on Aug. 29.

What is Artemis I?
Artemis I is a test of NASA's deep space exploration systems, including the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The SLS rocket weighs in at a total of 5.75 million pounds, which sounds like a lot. But when compared to the Saturn V rockets that launched the Apollo astronauts into space from 1968 to 1972, the SLS is shorter, slimmer, and more powerful.

The SLS's four RS-25 engines burn 735,000 gallons of liquid propellant during lift-off. Rocket engineers have stated that the early stage of a launch for the SLS is similar to carrying a massive weight up a mountain while Earth's gravity pushes back the entire time.

NASA has been known to draw inspiration from Greek mythology for its missions, and Artemis I is no different. The program was named after Apollo's twin sister in an attempt to pay homage to its earlier predecessor. Orion is also connected, named after one of the most recognizable constellations. In some versions of the story, Artemis placed a giant huntsman named Orion among the stars as a constellation after his death.

Officials stated that the flight is risky—and could be cut short. If something fails, the test may not complete its full six-week expedition. The flight in itself comes with a hefty price tag, costing more than $4 billion. Even more shocking, the entire program is set to rack up a $93 billion dollar bill, covering everything from its creation nearly a decade ago to the first lunar landing in 2025.

Why is it important?

If all goes well during their first test flight, NASA could be inviting astronauts to climb aboard as early as 2023 to travel through space. It could also re-establish NASA and help solidify the Space Coast as the premier space launch area in the United States along with providing another big shot in the arm for Florida tourism.

NASA hopes to break records with Artemis I. The flight will carry three test dummies almost 300,000 miles from earth and thousands of miles beyond the moon. This will be the furthest a spacecraft built for humans has gone.

The test dummies will be joined by cargo intended for deep-space research, including ten satellites that will be ejected once Orion makes its way toward the moon and slivers of moon rocks that Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong collected during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.

Additionally, NASA plans for Orion's mission to take place over the course of four to six weeks, which will be the longest a ship for astronauts has stayed in space without docking to a station. The hope is that Artemis I will be the first in a series of missions that will eventually lead humans to land on Mars.

Where and when is the launch?

Although it may take around a week for Orion to reach the moon, space enthusiasts will only have to wait three more days to join in on the excitement. Artemis I is expected to take off from Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center on Monday, Aug. 29.

There will be three designated viewing areas for guests featuring live commentary and large screens for video coverage. Walter Cunningham, Tom Stafford, and Harrison Schmitt, three Apollo program alumni, will be at the launch.

What time should I arrive?

Artemis I is expected to launch at 8:33 a.m. The visitor complex parking opens ahead of the launch at 3:30 a.m., while the main security gate opens at 3:45 a.m.

What do I need to watch?

A launch viewing package must be purchased online prior to the event, which can be found here. Packages cost $99 and include two-day admission to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, access to launch day events, and a commemorative launch lithograph.

Purchasers should be aware that the launch date is subject to change, and packages are non-transferable. Preferred parking is available for an additional $15, but has limited availability.

If you're waiting until the last minute, ABC Action News has a list of locations where you can watch the historic launch.

How long is the mission?

  • Launch date: Aug. 29, 2022
  • Mission duration: 42 days, 3 hours, 20 minutes
  • Total distance traveled: 1.3 million miles
  • Re-entry speed: 24,500 mph (Mach 32)
  • Splashdown: Oct. 10, 2022

The Space Launch System Rocket by the numbers:

  • Height— 322 feet
  • Mass at Liftoff — 5.75 million pounds
  • Thrust at Liftoff — 8.8 million pounds
  • Payload to the moon — 59,000 pounds

The Orion Spacecraft by the numbers:

  • Crew and Service module height — 26 feet
  • Pressurized volume — 690.6 ft3
  • Mass to the moon — 53,000 pounds
  • Return mass at landing — 18,200 pounds

How large of a project is Artemis I?

Businesses and agencies from all over the United States and the world have played a part in getting Artemis I this close to the launch. NASA created a map showing just how massive of a scale the project has been ahead of its first launch.