We’re Going to see at Least Five More SLS Rockets Launch in the Coming Years

March 2022 image of NASA's Space Launch System rocket’s core stage forward assembly boasting a 40-meter (130-foot) liquid hydrogen tank. (Credits: NASA/Eric Bordelon)

NASA’s continued goal of sending humans into deep space using its Space Launch System (SLS) recently took a giant leap as the world’s largest space agency finalized the SLS Stages Production and Evolution Contract worth $3.2 billion with The Boeing Company in Huntsville, Alabama. The purpose of the contract is for Boeing to keep building SLS core and upper stages for future Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond for at least five more SLS launches.

Continue reading “We’re Going to see at Least Five More SLS Rockets Launch in the Coming Years”

Artemis I has Completed its First Flyby of the Moon

A portion of the far side of the Moon looms large just beyond the Orion spacecraft in this image taken on the sixth day of the Artemis I mission by a camera on the tip of one of Orion s solar arrays. Credit: NASA.

The Orion spacecraft made its first close flyby of the Moon on Monday, November 21, coming as close as 81 statute miles (130 km) from the lunar surface. As the Artemis 1 mission’s uncrewed spacecraft flew past the far side of the Moon, Orion’s orbital maneuvering system engine fired for 2 minutes and 30 seconds to successfully put the capsule into the desired orbit for the mission, called a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon.

“This burn is setting Orion up to orbit the Moon, and is largest propulsive event so far, as Artemis is hunting the Moon,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis Mission Manager at a briefing on Monday.

Continue reading “Artemis I has Completed its First Flyby of the Moon”

Artemis 1 Sends Back Snapshots of Earth as It Speeds Toward the Moon

Earth as seen from Orion capsule
Earth shines in an image captured by a camera mounted on one of the Orion service module’s solar array wings. (NASA / ESA / JP Major)

As it heads for the moon, NASA’s Orion space capsule is sending back snapshots of Earth that evoke the “blue marble” pictures taken by Apollo astronauts five decades earlier.

This time around, the photographer is basically a robot, built into the camera system for the uncrewed Artemis 1 mission. The round-the-moon odyssey got off to a spectacular start early today with the first launch of NASA’s Space Launch System, and over the next 25 days it’s due to blaze a trail for future crewed trips to the lunar surface.

Hours after liftoff, a camera mounted on one of Orion’s four solar arrays pivoted around to capture a view of the spacecraft’s European-built service module in the foreground — with our half-shadowed planet set against the black background of space.

“Orion looking back at Earth as it travels toward the moon, 57,000 miles away from the place we call home,” NASA’s Sandra Jones intoned as the imagery came down.

Continue reading “Artemis 1 Sends Back Snapshots of Earth as It Speeds Toward the Moon”

Artemis I is On Its Way to the Moon

NASA’s Space Launch System rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft launches on the Artemis I flight test, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, from Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

It really, finally, actually happened. The long-waited Space Launch System (SLS) rocket carrying the Orion capsule launched successfully and is now on its way to the Moon. After years of delays — and then two scrubbed launch attempts and a rollback of the rocket to the Vehicle Assembly Building this fall  — this is the first time in 50 years that a human capable spacecraft is going to the Moon. In a way, it is fitting that Artemis launched in the dark, as the last human-rated spacecraft that launched to the Moon – Apollo 17 – also had liftoff at night.

“It’s taken a lot to get here, but Orion is now on its way to the Moon,” said Jim Free, NASA deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. “This successful launch means NASA and our partners are on a path to explore farther in space than ever before for the benefit of humanity.”

Continue reading “Artemis I is On Its Way to the Moon”

A new Launch Date for Artemis 1: November 14th … at Night

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at sunset atop the mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B as preparations for launch continue, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

If the next launch attempt of the Artemis I mission goes as planned, it should be a spectacular sight.

NASA is now targeting Monday, November 14 at just after midnight Eastern Time for the liftoff of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft. A 69-minute launch window opens at 12:07 a.m. EST.

Continue reading “A new Launch Date for Artemis 1: November 14th … at Night”

NASA Chooses a Supplier to Build its Moonwalking Spacesuits

Axiom will provide the next generation astronaut spacesuits to NASA to support the Artemis lunar missions. Credit: Axiom

NASA announced they have chosen Axiom Space to build the spacesuits for the next astronauts to walk on the Moon. The spacesuits will be used on the Artemis III mission, which is planned to land the first woman and the first person of color on the lunar surface.

Axiom Space says the new spacesuits will provide astronauts with advanced capabilities for space exploration while providing NASA commercially developed human systems needed to access, live, and work in microgravity as well as on and around the Moon.

Continue reading “NASA Chooses a Supplier to Build its Moonwalking Spacesuits”

NASA Will Try Again on September 3 For First Launch of Artemis

n this black and white infrared image, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop the mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

After reviewing the data from Monday’s scrubbed launch attempt for the Space Launch System/Artemis- 1 test flight, NASA’s Mission Management Team feels the rocket and the launch team will be ready for another try at the program’s maiden launch on Saturday, September 3. The two-hour launch window starts at 2:17 pm EDT (18:17 UTC).

Continue reading “NASA Will Try Again on September 3 For First Launch of Artemis”

Artemis 1 Goes Back to the Launch pad, Getting Ready for its August 29th Blastoff

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop the mobile launcher as it moves up the ramp at Launch Pad 39B, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft now sits on the launchpad, ready for liftoff on a journey around the Moon. This is the first time since 1972 that NASA has a human-rated spacecraft is ready to go beyond Earth orbit.

Continue reading “Artemis 1 Goes Back to the Launch pad, Getting Ready for its August 29th Blastoff”

NASA’s Space Launch System Gets Tentative Launch Date of August 29th

NASA has announced tentative placeholder launch dates for its beast of a rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), on its maiden flight to deep space. While work still needs to be accomplished to ensure its launch, the tentative dates are currently August 29th, September 2nd, and September 5th. While NASA stressed these are not set dates, the announcement nonetheless puts SLS closer than ever to flight.

The maiden launch of the most powerful rocket ever built comes after years of budget increases and delays. Funding for SLS was approximately $1.5 billion in 2011 but has increased almost every year until it hit $2.5 billion in 2021. This came after Congress mandated SLS “operational capability…not later than December 31, 2016”, but has faced countless delays since then due to audits and poor management.

Continue reading “NASA’s Space Launch System Gets Tentative Launch Date of August 29th”

NASA Says It’s Satisfied With Rehearsal for SLS Moon Rocket Launch

SLS and Orion at launch pad
A full Moon looms over NASA's Space Launch System and its Orion capsule containing yeast cells bound for an epic trip. (NASA Photo / Ben Smegelsky)

NASA says it’s finished with having to do full-scale dress rehearsals for the first liftoff of its moon-bound Space Launch System rocket. But it’s not finished with having to make fixes.

“At this point we’ve determined that we’ve successfully completed the evaluations and the work that we intended to complete for the dress rehearsal,” Thomas Whitmeyer, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for common exploration systems development, told reporters today.

NASA’s assessment came after a dress rehearsal that reached its climax on June 20 with the loading of the 322-foot-tall rocket’s supercooled propellant tanks. The rehearsal, which followed some less-than-fully-successful trial runs in April, marked a milestone for launch preparations because it was the first time that the team at Kennedy Space Center in Florida had fully loaded all of the tanks and proceeded into the terminal launch countdown.

Continue reading “NASA Says It’s Satisfied With Rehearsal for SLS Moon Rocket Launch”