NASA's Mightiest Rocket Lifts Off 50 Years After Apollo
On November 16, 2022, the Artemis mission launches 50 years after Apollo oon, as observed from Sebastian, Florida, in the United States.
Launched from Florida on its first flight on Wednesday, NASA's next-generation rocketship was on course for an unmanned trip around the moon and back, exactly 50 years after the last lunar mission of the Apollo era.
The much-delayed launch marked the beginning of Artemis, the successor programme to Apollo, which aims to send astronauts back to the lunar surface this decade and build a permanent base there as the first step toward the further manned exploration of Mars.
At 1.47 a.m. EST (12.17 p.m. IST), the 32-story-tall Space Launch System rocket launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, piercing the blackness over Cape Canaveral with a fiery red tail.
According to NASA, the rocket's upper stage successfully sent the Orion spacecraft out of Earth orbit and onto its course for the moon around 90 minutes after launch.
“Today, we got to witness the world’s most powerful rocket take the Earth by its edges... And it was quite a sight,” Mike Sarafin, the Artemis mission manager, said at a NASA briefing following the launch.
With the exception of a few small instrument problems, he stated that “this system is performing exactly as we intended it to”
After 10 weeks beset by technical difficulties, back-to-back hurricanes, and two trips trundling the spacecraft out of its hangar to the launch pad, liftoff occurred on the third attempt to launch the multi-billion dollar rocket.
Crews had to address a slew of concurrent problems, including a faulty fuel valve, around four hours prior to Wednesday's blastoff.
The launch was saved thanks to quick action by a special team of technicians who tightened down a loose connection on the launch pad well inside the "blast zone" marked out around a nearly fully fueled rocket.