With the Artemis I mission spearheading deep space missions to the Moon again, there’s a lot to be excited about. Despite an initial target window of November, NASA delayed the mission and now has a new mission start month for the next Moon mission.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is now slated for a February 2022 launch. Currently sitting at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the mission marks the next generation of deep space operations involving the Moon. The organization dropped a press release Friday discussing the mission’s current stages and plans. The SLS’s integrated system is entering its final operational phase for an uncrewed flight around the Moon.
“It’s hard to put into words what this milestone means, not only to us here at Exploration Ground Systems, but to all the incredibly talented people who have worked so hard to help us get to this point,” Mike Bolger, Exploration Ground Systems program manager said in the press release. “Our team has demonstrated tremendous dedication preparing for the launch of Artemis I. While there is still work to be done to get to launch, with continued integrated tests and Wet Dress Rehearsal, seeing the fully stacked SLS is certainly a reward for all of us.”
NASA expects the rocket and crew capsule to reach the launch pad in late December. While it’s there, scientists will conduct initial tests. Returning in January, wet dress rehearsal will begin, along with more checkouts. Finally, assuming all goes according to plan, the mission will commence in February 2022.
Setting the stage for future endeavors, “Artemis I will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond…” NASA writes.
NASA’s Lucy Mission Already Hit Some Snags During its 12-Year Journey
Solar arrays power Lucy through our solar system, but one of them has not locked into place. After launching, the arrays were supposed to be deployed after roughly an hour and a half. However, one of them hasn’t locked into place, despite receiving power.
“In the current spacecraft attitude, Lucy can continue to operate with no threat to its health and safety,” NASA noted on its website. “Lucy’s two solar arrays have deployed, and both are producing power and the battery is charging. While one of the arrays has latched, indications are that the second array may not be fully latched. All other subsystems are normal.”
Though it didn’t latch yet, NASA’s mission director, Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, says the mission is “safe and stable” right now.