Keep your eyes peeled Keep your calendars open: NASA's Artemis program will return to Moon and could be launching its first test flight without a crew on August 29, NASA confirmed Wednesday.
Artemis-1 is the initial in an ongoing series of missions as the United States seeks to return humanity to the Moon to establish a long-term presence on the Moon, and then use the lessons learned from the mission to plan a return trip to Mars later in 2030.
NASA assistant administrator Jim Free told reporters the initial window of launches for the massive Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion crew capsule was August 29, September 2, and September 5.
The decision comes after final inspections on-site at Kennedy Space Center in Florida which is also known by the name "wet dress rehearsals."
The most recent test which was carried out in June exceeded 90% of the goals set by the team and, the team reported on Wednesday that Cliff Lanham, senior vehicle operations manager, revealed that the engineers have since replaced defective seals which caused a hydrogen leak in SLS during the last test.
Artemis-1 is scheduled to travel through the far end of the Moon during a mission that will last between four and six weeks more than any other ship that has been used by astronauts without docking. Then, it will return to earth faster and more hot than any vessel previously.
It will also launch several small satellites known as CubeSats to conduct tests in space.
Artemis Mission director Mike Sarafin told reporters: "Our first and our primary objective is to demonstrate Orion's heat shield in lunar reentry conditions."
As the capsule is returned from its trip to the Moon the spacecraft will be traveling at around 24,500 miles per hour (39,400 kilometers per hour) and will experience temperatures about half as scorching as that of the Sun without its shield of heat.
The other goal is to show the capability of flight of the capsule and rocket when they execute all of their maneuvers throughout the duration of the course.
In the end, NASA will look to be able to successfully recover Orion after splashdown and will thoroughly examine it.
Artemis-2 is the very first test conducted by a crew that will fly across the Moon but without landing, while Artemis-3 will witness one of the very first women and the first person of color to land on the South Pole of the lunar moon.