The most powerful rocket in Nasa history – the Space Launch System (SLS) – will hopefully lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral on Saturday evening.
This will herald a new era in space exploration for NASA. The first launch of the new SLS rocket, dubbed Artemis 1, marks the beginning of the US space agency’s goal of getting astronauts back to the moon within three years.
The Artemis 1 launch was scheduled to take place on Monday but was canceled at 11am.
Independent.ie has put together everything you need to know ahead of tonight’s launch.
What is special about the new rocket?
First off, it’s the most powerful rocket ever built. It will generate 3.9 million kilos of thrust, enough to keep about 22 jumbo jets aloft.
The rocket will reach nearly 4,000 mph in just two minutes. Within eight minutes it will be traveling at almost 29,000 km/h – fast enough to circumnavigate the entire planet in around 80 minutes. The top speed will be around 36,000 km/h. To put this in perspective, it’s the equivalent of traveling from Dublin to New York in about eight minutes.
The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will produce the greatest force ever produced by a rocket when it lifts off later today. When testing the SLS in Utah, the engines generated so much heat that they fused desert sand into glass.
When and where can I watch it?
The launch will be streamed live on Nasa’s website and YouTube channel and is scheduled to take off at around 7:17pm Irish time.
What is so special about this mission?
Today’s launch is the first launch of the SLS rocket. Nasa thinks it can transport the unmanned Orion spacecraft around the moon and back, but today and over the course of five weeks, they will find out for sure.
That makes a lot of people at NASA nervous.
Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson told CBS News: “I’m afraid people think it’s routine. But when those candles go out, it’s anything but routine. It’s a tightrope walk to the top… It’s a big deal.” “And it’s beautiful. And it’s a monster. The size just overwhelms you.”
And if it’s successful?
If it does what Nasa believes, the SLS rocket will result in humans being further from Earth than ever before, and it will also see more astronauts and equipment being sent to the moon at higher speeds for exploration .
Artemis III in 2024 will aim to be the first mission to put a woman and a person of color on the moon, Nasa said.
“The next step is to send humans on bold missions to the moon and beyond. As SLS evolves into unprecedented payload mass and volume accommodation and unmatched performance over the course of future missions, the rocket will enable NASA to send missions into space and reach distant targets faster than ever before,” Nasa said .
“On its second mission with Orion and astronauts, Artemis II, SLS will send Orion and its crew further than humans have traveled before, approximately 250,000 miles from Earth, 10,000 miles beyond the Moon.
“On the third flight, Artemis III, SLS will send Orion and astronauts on a mission in 2024 that will land on the moon. Americans along with their international atd commercial partners will use the moon as a proving ground to test technologies and prepare for missions to Mars.”
Could something go wrong?
You bet. Nasa is quite concerned ahead of today’s launch, which is expected to attract up to 200,000 in-person viewers to Florida.
Monday’s first attempt was postponed after a hydrogen leak was found, and Nasa is hoping no more mishaps will delay the long-awaited launch.
“This is a very risky mission,” said Jim Free, deputy director of NASA.
“We have a lot of things that could go wrong during the mission in places where we might have to come home early or cancel to get home.”
The weather forecast looks favorable for the start
How long will the mission last?
A little over five weeks. The Orion spacecraft is expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere on October 10, having come within 60 miles of the moon on day six and then orbiting it for a few weeks before hopefully splashing into the Pacific Ocean.
https://www.independent.ie/news/artemis-1-all-the-details-of-nasas-second-attempt-at-moon-launch-it-hopes-will-change-space-exploration-41943193.html Artemis 1: Why Nasa thinks Monday’s moon launch will change space exploration forever