NASA Launches ‘Most Powerful’ Moon Rocket
In a dazzling display of light and music, NASA launched the most powerful rocket ever made on a mission to the Moon on Wednesday. This launch marked the beginning of the space agency’s new flagship program, Artemis.
At 1:47 am (0647 GMT), the 32-story-tall Space Launch System (SLS) lifted off from Florida’s famed Kennedy Space Center with a record 8.8 million pounds (39 meganewtons) of thrust.
“Thank you for what you did today; it will serve as an example for future generations.” Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, the first female launch director for NASA, told her teammates as they applauded.
The Orion spacecraft, which will orbit our nearest neighbor Earth in a test trip for further flights in which the first woman and the first person of color should set land on lunar soil by the middle of the 2020s, was fastened to the rocket’s top.
NASA reported that the spacecraft had successfully performed a propulsive maneuver to escape the gravity of Earth and was on its way to the Moon about two hours after launch.
Completed trans-lunar injection burn! NASA associate administrator for exploration systems Jim Free tweeted, “NASA Orion is heading to the Moon!
During the Apollo period, which ran from 1969 to 1972, America last sent astronauts to the Moon.
This time, it plans to create a long-lasting presence, possibly even a lunar space station, in order to become ready for a journey to Mars in the 2030s.
The two-hour launch window, which opened at 1:04 am, was cut short by technical challenges, which caused some anxious moments as crews struggled to fix them.
Tuesday night, a valve leak led engineers to temporarily stop the flow of liquid hydrogen into the core stage, but after about an hour, a team deployed to the launch pad tightened several loose bolts to fix the problem.
Later, the space agency claimed that a malfunctioning ethernet switch had to be changed at a radar station monitoring the rocket’s flight path.
NASA’s third launch attempt was successful after two previous attempts were scrubbed due to technical issues. Weather-related problems, like as Hurricane Ian, which pounded Florida in late September, also contributed to the launch’s delay.