Finally, on November 16, NASA launched its Artemis 1 mission, and I was at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch.
That space launch system is NASA’s largest rocket ever and successfully shot down the unmanned Orion capsule on a 26-day mission around the moon.
Watching a space launch from Nasa isn’t always a blast.
Although the experience was ultimately worth it to see how history happens, viewing from Nasa’s press page can be a strange experience.
Stay awake 30 hours
If you’re watching a rocket launch at Kennedy Space Center or on the outskirts, you probably won’t get much sleep.
Nasa asked journalists to arrive from 5:00 p.m. ET (10:00 p.m. GMT) on November 15, although the rocket was not launched until 1:47 a.m. ET (6:47 a.m. GMT) the next day.
This meant that many journalists, astronauts and Nasa executives had to stay up very late to cover the launch and the events that followed.
People often stay up from the morning and work through.
Members of the public wishing to view the launch from the area are asked to get up and disembark early as the roads are blocked by traffic.
Avid observers of rocket launches should also be warned that Nasa often cancels launches when all is not perfect.
Artemis 1 almost failed to launch on November 16 due to an engine leak and loose bolts.
An emergency team was able to enter the missile’s danger zone and repair the screws in time, but two previous Artemis 1 attempts were scrapped because of similar problems.
Nasa advises people at the press location to bring their own food, but sometimes provides a food truck.
I’ve been to the Kennedy Space Center four times this year when the US space agency tried and failed to launch Artemis 1.
Almost always the only food offered was donuts, moon pies or grilled cheese sandwiches.
This included grilled cheese sandwiches, which were offered in the early hours.
Prepare to run for your life
Press and invited guests can watch rocket launches right next to the Mission Control Center.
That’s the shortest distance a human could travel to the Artemis 1 rocket launch and remain safe.
The site is about three miles away.
Despite the long distance, journalists had to be prepared to run to a designated shelter in the event of a rocket explosion.
Risks from an exploding rocket include acid rain and debris.
Fortunately, Artemis 1 launched smoothly at 1:47 a.m. ET (6:47 a.m. GMT), just 43 minutes after the two-hour launch window opened.
Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson described the launch as the brightest it had ever seen, with the biggest shockwave it had experienced.
The start was so bright I had to wear sunglasses and you can feel the force of the shockwave rattling through your body.
The brightness hits you first, and the vibrations and noise come shortly after.
Nasa’s Space Launch System remained visible for a few minutes before disappearing into a tiny dot near the moon.
What is Artemis 1?
Artemis 1 is not a manned mission, but it must orbit the moon to test three key components.
These are Nasa’s Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion spacecraft and the European Service Module (ESM).
The Orion spacecraft and ESM should come within 62 miles of the lunar surface and then travel 40,000 miles beyond.
Once the rocket has orbited the dark side of the moon, it should land in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego.
Nasa will be closely monitoring the Artemis 1 mission as it rockets away from Earth in case it has yet to be aborted.
Artemis 1 is important because it’s evolving into Artemis 2, which will carry humans around the moon for years to come.
Both missions build on Artemis 3, which aims to bring the first woman and the first person of color to the lunar surface.
NASA says it has now opened “a new chapter in human lunar exploration.”
https://www.thesun.ie/tech/news-tech/9750154/behind-the-scenes-nasa-rocket-launch-artemis-1/ I went to Nasa for the biggest rocket launch ever – three weird things that happened, including bizarre food