NASA’s Artemis 1 has blasted off towards the moon

16 Nov 2022

Artemis 1 lift off. Image: Joel Kowsky/NASA (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The uncrewed Artemis 1 mission, which is part of plans to put humans back on the moon, blasted off from Florida today.

The most powerful rocket ever built is now heading towards the moon at speeds of up to 36,000kph.

After two scrubbed launch attempts, the uncrewed Artemis 1 mission blasted off towards space in the early hours of this morning (16 November) from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

It is part of a NASA project to put humans back on the moon by 2025 – including the first woman and first person of colour.

Artemis 1 consists of a new rocket – the Space Launch System – and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. Orion is a reusable, solar-powered craft, capable of carrying up to six astronauts to the moon.

But this reliance on the sun for power means there have been some restrictions for when Artemis 1 could launch. It was initially scheduled to leave for the moon in August, but the launch has also been impacted by weather and technical fixes.

“We don’t launch until it’s right,” Bill Nelson, NASA administrator, said after the first attempt. “It’s just illustrative that this is a very complicated machine, a very complicated system, and all those things have to work. You don’t wanna light the candle until it’s ready to go.”

A host of instruments and systems aboard Artemis 1 will test the suitability of the technology for the future of long-haul human spaceflight. The 25-day journey to the moon and back is NASA’s first human-capable deep space mission in half a century.

In Greek mythology, Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo – who inspired the name for NASA’s previous ‘manned’ missions to the moon between 1969 and 1972.

Artemis 3, which is slated for 2025, is set to shake things up by adding a woman to the list of people to have ever walked on the moon. A subsequent Artemis mission will also add the first person of colour to this list of moonwalkers.

And now the candle has been lit.

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Artemis 1 lift off. Image: Joel Kowsky/NASA (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic