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The Artemis generation: NASA will launch its first lunar rocket since 1972

Image Credit: NASA

Monday will mark the first time in 50 years that Nasa will launch a rocket capable of carrying people to and from the moon.

Photograph: Joe Skipper/Reuters
© Provided by The Guardian

The massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is planned to launch from NASA’s Cape Canaveral, Florida, complex at 8.33am ET (1.33pm UK time) atop an unmanned Orion spacecraft that is intended to transport up to six astronauts to the moon and beyond.

The Orion vehicle will go 40,000 miles past the far side of the moon on the 1.3 million mile Artemis I test mission, which will launch from the same location as the Apollo lunar missions fifty years ago. The mission is expected to last 42 days.

Before ending in 2011, NASA’s Space Shuttle program launched manned missions circling the earth in a region of relatively close space. Since then, missions akin to the shuttle program have been undertaken by private American space enterprises like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. But Artemis I’s task is to start telling NASA about the possibility of sending astronauts to Mars in the future, which would truly bring science fiction to life.

The Artemis program is anticipated to cost US taxpayers $93 billion to fund. However, NASA executives claimed that Americans would deem the cost to be justified in the days prior to Monday’s launch.

NASA administrator and former space shuttle astronaut Bill Nelson reportedly declared, “This is the Artemis generation.” “The Apollo generation included us. This generation is brand-new. This kind of astronaut is novel.

The only “crew members” inside Orion for Monday’s premiere are mannequins designed to help NASA assess its next-generation spacesuits and radiation levels, along with a soft Snoopy toy that will float around the capsule to demonstrate zero gravity.

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