Artemis I has a release date again — this time aiming for mid-November.
NASA announced on October 12 that its upcoming lunar mission is set to launch on Monday, November 14 at 12:07 AM. east of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. It will begin moving out of the Vehicle Assembly Building, where it was stored during Hurricane Ian, on Nov. 4.
Artemis: Timeline Updates
NASA is setting some backup launch dates for the mission on Wednesday, November 16 and Saturday, November 19, although given the long delays of the James Webb Space Telescope, you can also prepare for a Thanksgiving launch. (This is just idle speculation, but Webb HE MADE launch on Christmas Day.)
Both backup opportunities would also occur during the early morning hours of 1:04 and 1:45 am. east, respectively.
The launch would see the Artemis I mission finally fly after several false starts. The massive SLS rocket on which humanity hopes to return to the Moon rests has failed several “wet” dress rehearsals due to fuel leaks. Undaunted, NASA decided to go ahead with uncrewed launch attempts, first on August 29 and then on September 3, but both were ultimately scrubbed. The first was canceled due to potentially faulty sensors and the second due to persistent fuel leaks — these were issues that arose during rehearsals as well.
The agency had set another launch attempt for Sept. 23, but Hurricane Ian delayed that and sent the rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building to prevent storm damage.
Why spend with Artemis I?
The Artemis I mission is part of NASA’s ambitious Artemis program, which could see astronauts return to the Moon for the first time since 1972. Artemis I is uncrewed and is set to make a 25-and-a-half-day trip to the Moon and back.
It will heavily feature the Space Launch System rocket, a kind of Frankenstein rocket with leftover Space Shuttle components upgraded for heavy launches. At the top is the Orion capsule, a spacious craft designed for people to live comfortably while on long-duration space flights.
NASA will closely monitor the Artemis I mission to set Artemis II up for success. This mission has a tentative launch date of sometime in 2024 and will see astronauts sent into a loop around the Moon. Artemis III will put human boots on the Moon again and is tentatively scheduled for 2025. How delays to Artemis I play into getting humans back to the Moon, NASA has yet to say.
Much is made of the successful launch of Artemis I, and while it had its share of hiccups, so have many successful NASA missions — see the full Webb mission. So commit to November 14th. Or November 16 or 19. Or Thanksgiving. Or sometime in December. But hopefully not in 2023. Let’s hope.