This November 14, NASA begins an important mission with the aim of having a human presence on the Moon for the next few decades. The Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will take off from Florida.
The launch will take place at Launch Complex 39B located in the modernized spaceport of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, United States. This is an uncrewed test that will set up a base for human exploration of deep space.
The flight will be made by launching the ‘world’s most powerful’ rocket and will fly farther than any manned spacecraft has ever flown. According to NASA, its journey will take four to six days, traveling 450,616 kilometers from Earth.
Orion will stay in space longer than any astronaut ship without docking with a space station and will return home faster and hotter than ever.
“This is a mission that will really do what has not been done and learn what is not known. It will open a path that people will follow on the next Orion flight,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
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What will the takeoff and ascent be like?
During liftoff and ascent, the SLS rocket will produce 8.8 million pounds of thrust to lift a vehicle weighing nearly six million pounds into orbit. A pair of five-segment thrusters and four RS-25 engines will be used, reaching the period of greatest atmospheric force in ninety seconds.
After scrapping the thrusters, service module panels, launch abort system, and core stage engines; they will shut down and the core stage will separate from the spacecraft.
As the spacecraft orbits the Earth, it will deploy its solar arrays and the interim cryogenic propulsion stage will give Orion the big boost needed to leave Earth’s orbit and travel to the Moon; this will take a few days.
The spacecraft will fly about 60 miles above the Moon’s surface and then use the satellite’s gravitational pull to propel Orion into a distant retrograde orbit, traveling about 40,000 miles beyond the Moon.
This distance is 30,000 miles more than the previous record set during the Apollo 13 mission and the farthest distance in space ever flown by a spacecraft built for humans.
For its return trip to Earth, Orion will gain another gravitational assist from the Moon, as it makes a second close flyby, firing engines at precisely the right time to take advantage of the Moon’s gravity and accelerate back to Earth, placing itself in a path to return.