The countdown to NASA’s Artemis I Launching is underway for an expected liftoff from the Florida Space Coast on Wednesday, though damage incurred during Hurricane Nicole may delay the rocket’s flight a little longer.
He also made Hurricane Nicole Landfall in Florida Last Thursday, high winds caused a 10-foot section of caulk to peel off near the crew capsule on top of the rocket, the Associated Press reported.
This is the first test flight for the 322-foot rocket, which is scheduled to launch from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 1:04 a.m. Wednesday — the crew capsule will not be operated by astronauts on this flight, but test dummies will occupy the space.
Mission managers fear that the peel dam, though tight, could damage the rocket if it breaks. They are expected to make a final decision on whether to go ahead with the launch on Monday night, according to the Associated Press.
“Artemis I will be the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to build a long-term human presence on the Moon for decades to come,” NASA said on its website. “The primary goals of Artemis I are to demonstrate the Orion systems in a spaceflight environment and to ensure a safe return, landing, splashdown, and recovery prior to the first flight with a crew on Artemis II.”
Over the course of 25 days, 11 hours, and 36 minutes, the spacecraft will travel 1.3 million miles, and when it reenters Earth’s atmosphere, it’s expected to travel at 24,500 miles per hour, or Mach 32, before liftoff. December 11th.
While in space, the spacecraft will orbit Earth and deploy solar arrays and an interim cooled propulsion stage, or ICPS, to gain enough thrust to leave the planet’s orbit and travel to the moon, NASA said in its post.
It will take several days to reach the moon, but once there, it will fly 62 miles above the lunar surface and use the force of gravity to propel the Orion spacecraft about 40,000 miles from the moon into orbit.
It then orbits the Moon for six days before returning to Earth. Once the spacecraft returns, it is expected to land off the coast of Baja, California.
The AP reports that the month-long, $4 billion mission has been delayed since August, due to fuel leaks and Hurricane Ian.
NASA moved the rocket into its hangar during Hurricane Ian, but it remained on the launch pad for Hurricane Nicole.
The last time NASA sent astronauts to the moon was during the last mission of the Apollo program in December 1972.
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