If you don’t already know, NASA engineers are wrapping up on the final tests of the Space Launch System. The SLS will be the platform, literally, to launch future astronauts to head over towards the moon. With the mega moon rocket, the Artemis I, it’s a 322-foot-tall SLS that originated from the Vehicle Assembly Building to launch pad 39B over towards the Kennedy Space Center. There was an original delay but the passing of key tests for the rocket’s flight termination system (FTS) allowed the rocket to move it’s launch ahead of schedule. The FTS is known as a critical series of components to ensure that a rocket will be safely destroyed post-launch in the scenario of a major failure. NASA says that the FTS was the last major activity on their pre-launch to-do list.
The testing of the FTS is very important. Mainly because the system is in it’s own a fail-safe. The FTS is last because the system tends to start a proverbial clock for 20 days to launch. The launch can’t occur within the period, the system has to therefore be retested. Within the time frame, it’s set by the U.S. Space Force, by the FTS’s very own battery system. NASA was lucky to get an extension from Space Launch Delta 45, the USSF unit with jurisdiction over launches on the east coast from 20 to 25 days.
NASA will be on-track for a first launch attempt of the Artemis I mission on August 29th. It’s because of this extension that NASA will make the backup launch attempts on September 2nd to September 5th.
Artemis I is a big step for NASA’s own kind.
Artemis I tends to be the first in plenty of planned launches that are aimed at returning humans to the Moon. This will be the first since the Apollo days that a rocket brings people right to the Moon. The thing about Space Launch System is that it isn’t reusable. You may be able to have a successful launch but it won’t be capable enough to handle another flight. Throughout the mission, Orion is going to journey all-around the Moon before conducting a re-entry and splashdown back on Earth.
Artemis II is another flight to look forward to as that one will be scheduled for 2024. Such a mission will be carrying humans, although they won’t really touch down on the moon. The actual people that will touch down on the big pie in the sky will belong the next lineup of astronauts. This will involve the first woman and person of color to ever touch down. Artemis III is likely to be scheduled towards the middle of the decade.
It’s an exciting prospect to imagine that the next steps a man can make will be on the Moon’s surface. It’s certainly ambitious enough for the team behind the Space Launch System. Could you ever imagine anything more magnificent than the opportunity to step on the surface of the Moon? That would be awesome.