This is news that we expected more as NASA had accustomed us to schedule delays. The Artemis 1 mission is ready on time and a first ground launch attempt has just taken place tonight, around 3 am (French time).
As a reminder, Artemis 1 will leave Cape Canaveral on August 29th. With the SLS rocket, which will launch the Orion spacecraft, NASA hopes to (re)learn how to travel to deep space. A complex maneuver that had not been performed since the end of the Apollo flights.
Artemis 1: the big dress rehearsal
During this first mission, NASA does not foresee anyone on board. The idea is above all to ensure that the SLS rocket flies well and that the latter is capable of depositing Orion at a good distance from the Moon. With such a rocket, the largest ever built by NASA, the American space agency hopes to go to our satellite, but also to our much more interesting neighbor, Mars.
In order to prepare for future missions, NASA therefore intends to rotate Orion between 4 and 6 weeks in space, before the spacecraft works on another part of the flight, which is just as crucial: the return to Earth. This mission at the end of August therefore acts as a big general rehearsal with Artemis 2, which could take place during the year 2023.
With the second part of the program, NASA will place, for the first time in 50 years, men in a rocket heading for the Moon. If these astronauts don’t tread on our satellite, they will set the stage for the third and most important of the missions.
The Moon: the first objective
With Artemis 3 NASA will return to the Moon, but the agency wants, unlike the Apollo mission, to stay there. The idea is not to prove that it is possible to go to the Moon, but to build bases there, and learn to live outside the Earth. Such otherworldly knowledge is key to properly preparing for Mars missions that could fill the US space agency’s schedule in the 2030s.
But as in the 1960s when NASA had to deal with competition from the USSR, today it is China that presents itself as the main rival of the American space agency. If the compatriots of Uncle Sam want to win this space race again, they will therefore have to stop committing the slightest mistake. The latter could be fatal.