NASA’s oft-delayed Space Launch System, or SLS, is finally ready for launch. The megarocket is designed to launch vehicles into deep space, and its first mission is called Artemis I. NASA is sending an uncrewed Orion space capsule deep into space and into a long orbit around the Moon before coming back to Earth.
It’s taken an extremely long time for the SLS to get to this point. It was scheduled to take off on its debut flight on August 29th, 2022, but its big entrance has since been scrubbed twice, rescheduled multiple times, and faced down two hurricanes. It was originally supposed to launch in 2017 but has suffered mishaps and mismanagement, leading to many delays. It’s also vastly over budget; developing the rocket cost a stunning $11 billion, and it will cost an estimated $4.1 billion per launch.
The rocket is designed to usher in a new generation of deep space exploration and may eventually carry human explorers farther into space than we’ve ever gone before. But first, it will have to get off the ground. Check back here for the latest stories as SLS launches and the Artemis I mission gets underway.
Dec 11, 2022
NASA successfully completes its Artemis I mission
NASA’s Orion spacecraft has returned to Earth. The uncrewed capsule safely splashed down into the Pacific Ocean off of Mexico’s Baja California around 12:40PM ET on Sunday, marking the end of the landmark Artemis I mission.Read Article >
The capsule reached speeds of about 24,500mph as it returned to Earth, while its heat shield sustained scorching temperatures of around 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Orion traveled a total of 1.4 million miles through space over the span of 25.5 days.
Dec 10, 2022
How to watch the end of NASA’s Artemis I mission
This weekend NASA’s Orion spacecraft will return to Earth, following its 25-day mission around the Moon. The uncrewed spacecraft is scheduled to splash down in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, December 11th.Read Article >
Since its launch on November 16th, Orion has traveled through Earth’s atmosphere and out into space, making a close flyby of the Moon and heading into a distant orbit, reaching a distance of over 43,000 miles from the Moon at its furthest point. Orion traveled around the Moon and made a second close flyby on the return journey and is now on its way back to Earth.
Nov 29, 2022
At its halfway point, NASA’s Artemis I mission breaks a record
On Monday, NASA’s Orion spacecraft reached its farthest distance from Earth, clocking in at 268,563 miles away from our planet. This marks the halfway point of the 25.5-day Artemis I mission, and the spacecraft will now continue its orbit around the Moon before heading back toward Earth.Read Article >
“Artemis I has had extraordinary success and has completed a series of history-making events,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said in a press conference, pointing out that Orion was the first spacecraft designed to carry humans to enter a distant retrograde lunar orbit and that it has surpassed the record for the furthest distance traveled away from Earth by a human-rated spacecraft.
Nov 22, 2022
NASA’s Orion spacecraft makes close flyby of the Moon and heads on to orbit
NASA’s Orion spacecraft has made it past the Moon as part of the uncrewed Artemis I mission, firing its engines to pass within 81 miles of the lunar surface, and is operating with high accuracy.Read Article >
The spacecraft performed an outbound powered flyby burn yesterday, Monday, November 21st, completing its closest flyby. The engines “all worked perfectly,” said Judd Frieling, a flight director at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, in a press conference. With three trajectory correction burns performed, the spacecraft has now fired all three of its thruster types: its large orbital maneuvering system engine, small reaction control system thrusters, and medium-sized auxiliary engines.
Nov 17, 2022
Putting Amazon’s Alexa in space is harder than you think
“Alexa, how far are we from Earth?Read Article >
“Currently, Orion is 204,066 miles away from Earth and 230,986 miles away from the Moon.”
Nov 16, 2022
NASA’s Artemis 1 mission is finally headed toward the Moon
With a roar that lit up the night sky, NASA sent its colossal next-generation rocket soaring into space for the first time on Wednesday. The Space Launch System rocket, or SLS, took off at 1:47AM ET from Cape Canaveral, Florida, signaling the start of a bold new era for the US government’s space program.Read Article >
It also marks a major success for NASA’s Artemis program to return to the Moon, which has been plagued by years of delays, development mishaps, and billions of dollars in budget overruns. During the past few months, both hurricanes and technical difficulties caused launch delays — including two scrubs. Then, tonight, engineers managed to fix both an intermittent hydrogen leak and a “bad ethernet switch” in the hours just before launch.
- We are go for launch!
The countdown clock has just started, we’re less than 8 minutes away from the launch of the Artemis 1 mission.
- Please hold.
NASA’s Artemis 1 mission was scheduled to launch at 1:04AM ET. But the launch is now in a holding pattern while engineers try to figure out how much work still needs to be done after troubleshooting multiple issues, including an ‘intermittent’ hydrogen leak a ‘problematic’ ethernet cable.
- “The ethernet switch has been replaced.”
The ‘problematic’ ethernet switch is gone, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Right now, they’re still aiming for a 1:04AM ET launch, but it’s pretty likely that will slip into the two hour window. New launch time: still tbd.
- A “bad ethernet switch” is causing issues for the Artemis 1 launch.
They’ve found the radar issue on the range...and it’s a “bad ethernet switch” says Derrol Nail, a launch commentator for NASA. It’s possible to fix, but might take about 70 minutes.
- “Work is complete.”
NASA’s Red Crew is back, and hydrogen has started flowing again. But now the range is ‘no-go’ for launch, because a radar site is down. It’s always something.
- Not quite a normal day at the office.
Here’s the Red Crew headed out to fix the hydrogen leak.
- The Red Crew is going in.
With just hours to go before the latest launch window opens for NASA’s Artemis 1 mission, a small team of technicians is about to enter the launch area to try to fix an intermittent hydrogen leak.
NASA says it should take the Red Crew about 15 minutes to “torque the packing nuts” at the base of the mobile launcher. Watch NASA’s coverage, or follow along with us as we watch the launch attempt.
- NASA is now “tracking an intermittent leak.”
Well, crap. There’s a leak in the ‘core stage replenish valve’ inside the mobile launcher. NASA’s team is monitoring the situation, and making plans to potentially send in a specialized team called the ‘Red Crew’ into the launch area to make adjustments.
- The weather is (still) looking good for launch.
The latest forecast from the Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron has the probability of good weather at 90 percent. It’s always nice when they get to be the bearer of good news — they’re no strangers to calling the whole thing off.
- The sun has gone down on SLS.
And things seem to be going well. <Knocks wood.> There was a “little bit of leakage” of the hydrogen, but it’s still within range, according to the NASA broadcast.
NASA’s megarocket is about to blast off toward the Moon
Okay, space fans. The moment is almost here. NASA is about to launch its next-generation rocket for the first time and send it hurtling out beyond the Moon. It’s going to be a wild time, but honestly, there’s been a lot going on here on Earth, too — and if you’re anything like me, you might be in the market for a quick refresher on what exactly is going down when NASA’s next big thing blasts off.Read Article >
Consider this your SLS cheat sheet as NASA gears up for its big launch on November 16th.
- It’s time to fuel up!
In a few minutes, NASA will start loading propellant into the SLS in preparation for its scheduled launch time at 1:04AM ET. Coverage has already started on NASA TV.
Nov 15, 2022
NASA’s Space Launch System rocket weathers the storm
NASA’s Artemis I mission is still set to launch this week after its Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft were buffeted by high winds during Hurricane Nicole. The rocket and spacecraft suffered only “very minor damage,” according to NASA officials. The aim of the Artemis I mission is to launch the spacecraft on an uncrewed mission around the Moon to test out the technology before a series of crewed missions visit the Moon.Read Article >
The decision to leave the rocket on the launchpad during a hurricane was controversial, as experts were concerned that high winds could cause it to rock. Previously, when Hurricane Ian threatened the Florida coast last month, the rocket was returned to a building called the Vehicle Assembly Building for safety. But last week, NASA officials chose to leave the rocket on the pad when Hurricane Nicole, then classified as a tropical storm, was approaching.
Nov 15, 2022
How to watch NASA’s Artemis I SLS megarocket launch
NASA’s massive Space Launch System (SLS) is almost ready for liftoff after facing multiple setbacks, including two scrubbed launch attempts and two hurricane-caused delays. This highly anticipated rocket launch has been over a decade in the making and marks NASA’s return to crewed missions to the Moon. This mission is called Artemis I, and while there won’t be any astronauts on board during this launch, it will serve as a test for the future goal of putting the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon.Read Article >
During its first launch, the SLS will catapult NASA’s Orion capsule into space, where it will embark on a voyage around the Moon that is expected to last until December 11th, when it will splash back down into the ocean. On November 4th, NASA rolled the rocket back out to launch pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida — a four-mile journey that took nearly nine hours.
Nov 9, 2022
NASA’s Artemis I launch is delayed again as Tropical Storm Nicole approaches
NASA’s massive next-generation rocket is facing down yet another tropical weather system, delaying its next launch attempt until November 16th at the earliest.Read Article >
This rocket was scheduled to finally launch on November 14th, taking off in the dark early morning hours. But with Tropical Storm Nicole approaching the Florida coast, NASA decided to push back the launch attempt. “Adjusting the target launch date will allow the workforce to tend to the needs of their families and homes, and provide sufficient logistical time to get back into launch status following the storm,” a NASA blog post said.
Nov 3, 2022
The next attempt to launch the Artemis I mission will be at night
NASA has confirmed its next launch attempt for the Artemis I mission will be at night, with a midnight launch scheduled for the early hours of Monday, November 14th. Following a difficult few months attempting to get the Space Launch System rocket off the ground for the first time, including several wet dress rehearsals, two previous launch attempts, a tanking test, and an interruption from a hurricane, the rocket will begin rolling back out to Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida just after midnight on Friday, November 4th.Read Article >
A night launch means lower visibility, and NASA representatives said they would have preferred a daylight launch. However, the team was confident that a night launch could be done safely and meet all the mission requirements, said Jim Free, associate administrator at NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. As for the public audience, the night launch means the view won’t be as good, but there should still be some visuals available.
Sep 26, 2022
Hurricane Ian pushes NASA to roll back Artemis I rocket
Threatening weather will force NASA to send the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket from its currently precarious position on the launchpad back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for safekeeping. The move will delay the agency’s highly anticipated launch of its Artemis I mission around the Moon.Read Article >
NASA made the announcement this morning as Hurricane Ian barrels toward Florida. The storm is expected to intensify rapidly today, becoming a major hurricane tonight or early Tuesday morning as it passes by Cuba. Ian could bring “life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall” to western Florida and the Florida Panhandle by the middle of the week, the National Hurricane Center warned this morning. Both President Joe Biden and Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for Florida over the weekend.
Sep 23, 2022
NASA’s Artemis I launch faces a new obstacle: the weather
I’ve got good news and bad news for fans of big NASA space launches.Read Article >
The good news is that after repeated delays and a nail-biting test of a leaky fuel system, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) could make its big debut as soon as Tuesday. The bad news is currently named Tropical Depression Nine. It’s a developing storm in the Caribbean with the potential to become a major hurricane and a trajectory that is currently headed toward Florida.