That’s the result of NASA’s Flight Readiness Review on Monday. The look was an in-depth assessment of the readiness of the 322-foot-tall (98-meter-tall) stack of Space Launch System rockets and Orion spacecraft currently sitting on the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. .
The Artemis team is targeting an initial two-hour launch window from 8:33am ET to 10:33am ET on Monday, August 29. There are backup launch windows on September 2nd and September 5th.
A “go” after a flight readiness review is a positive sign that everything is on track for the mission, but there are still factors that could affect liftoff over the next week, including bad weather.
After previous test rounds on the rocket’s launch pad during wetsuit training, there is little left on the to-do list, which simulates every step of flight without liftoff. NASA’s Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin said there remains one open item the team will test on launch day.
The hydrogen blow, used to thermally condition the engines, did not occur during the final wetsuit exercise, so this process is now part of the launch countdown. Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis I launch director at Kennedy Space Center, said the test will take place during a “quiet spot” before the final countdown.
The stack of rockets arrived at the launch pad on Aug. 17 after traveling 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) aboard one of the giant Apollo-era NASA crawlers — just like shuttle missions and Apollo Saturn V rockets once did. .
An uncrewed Artemis I will launch a mission beyond the Moon and back to Earth. After launch, the spacecraft will travel 1.3 million miles (2.1 million kilometers) in 42 days to reach a far retrograde orbit around the Moon. Artemis I will splash into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego on October 10. Orion’s return will be faster and hotter than any spacecraft has ever experienced on its way back to Earth.
The Orion spacecraft will go farther than any human-made spacecraft, reaching 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) beyond the far side of the Moon, NASA said.
There are no humans on board, but Orion will carry 120 pounds (54.4 kilograms) of memorabilia, including toys, Apollo 11 items and three mannequins.
In the Orion’s command seat will be Commander Moonikin Campos, a suitable mannequin capable of collecting data on what future human crews might encounter on a lunar journey. The mannequin will wear the new Orion Crew Survival System suit designed for astronauts to wear during launch and reentry. The suit has two radiation sensors.
The mission will launch NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the moon and land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface by 2025, eventually paving the way for human exploration of Mars.
Artemis I will also conduct a series of science experiments, some of which are installed after the rocket and spacecraft arrive at the launch pad.
This week, the Artemis team will once again open the hatch for Orion to install a plush Snoopy toy that will serve as the mission’s zero-gravity indicator. Once the spacecraft reaches the microgravity environment of space, Snoopy will pass through the crew capsule.
Bob Cabana, associate administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington, watched the launch of Apollo 13 as a young midshipman at the US Naval Academy.
“I never dreamed I’d be an astronaut, let alone the director of the Kennedy Space Center or the position I’m in now,” Cabana said. “I’m a product of Apollo and look what he’s done for us. I can’t wait to see what comes of Artemis because I think it will inspire more than Apollo. Do all the work during today’s preview and know that we’re ready to do it.”
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