Artemis 1: To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before

By Ethan Percival

Nearly 50 years has passed since the Apollo 17 Moon landing, the last time a man walked on the moon. In those 50 years, massive advancements have been made in space exploration. We have launched rovers to Mars in search of clues to past extraterrestrial life. The Voyager probes have traveled to the edge of the solar system and even into interstellar space. Yet, we have never returned to the moon, until now!

Or not. Unfortunately last Saturday following the first scrubbed launch of Artemis 1 on August 29th, the second attempt also had to be canceled. The first time around, a testing failure in one of the core stage’s engines caused the launch to be postponed.   The second time, a sizable hydrogen fuel leak forced NASA to call off the launch. Due to the nature of this leak, NASA may be forced to roll the launch vehicle back to the Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building, a process that takes nearly four days to complete. 

While the cancellation of the launch is extremely disappointing news for many who organized launch parties over the last few weeks, not all the news is bad.

Luckily, NASA engineers have been able to replace the broken seals in time for the next launch window on September 23. As we wait for the coveted day to arrive, we should explore how incredible this mission is.

The Artemis Program, named after Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the hunt and in Roman mythology was a goddess of the moon. Ironically, Artemis was also the twin sister to the god, Apollo. 

The program consists of five confirmed missions to the moon, as well as four more unconfirmed missions. The first, Artemis 1, is going to be an unmanned lunar fly-by to test the technology of the SLS Rocket (Space Launch System) and the Orion MPCV spacecraft (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle). In 2024, Artemis 2 will take an actual crew of astronauts around the moon and back. Finally, in 2025, Artemis 3 will land on the surface of the moon. 

The SLS rocket stands 322 feet tall and weighs an insane 5.8 million pounds when fully fueled, producing a whopping 8.8 million pounds of thrust! Once the Artemis 1 lifts-off, it will travel a total of 1.3 million miles over 6 weeks in its journey to the moon and back. Reentering the atmosphere at Mach 32 (24.500 mph), the heat shield of Orion will be heated to 5000° F before splashing down off the coast of California. 

 Their mission: to seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before! No, wait, my bad. That’s the mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise. However, that last section is true. The purpose of the Artemis Program is to discover lunar ice, establish a permanent colony on the moon to use as a jump-off point for a mission to Mars, boldly going where no one has gone before! 

Even though the canceling of the first two launches is disappointing, we have so much to look forward to in the coming months and years. For now, set those calendars for September 23, for what will hopefully be a successful launch attempt of the Artemis 1. Third time’s the charm!

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