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Artemis I: all systems go!

Ok, it’s true that there are still a few weeks for such a phrase to be pronounced (if it continues to be done, of course, maybe that protocol became obsolete decades ago) when it has been confirmed that all the systems are working correctly and that the Artemis I mission can be launched, which will begin the most ambitious program of NASA of the last decades, and that it is also not for one, but for two reasons.

The first is, of course, that Artemis is the program that aims to return the human being to the Moon. Next December it will be 50 years since Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt set foot on our natural satellite, while Ronald Evans orbited the Moon awaiting his return to the command and service module. Since then, and although the initial plans regarding space exploration were much more ambitious, the truth is that the Apollo XVII mission marked the end of the program (except for the joint Apollo-Soyuz mission, the first collaboration between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of the space race).

Finally It will be 50 years before humans set foot on the Moon again.but at least we will live that date with the hope that Artemis will follow in his footsteps and, sooner rather than later, we will again be able to see images as impressive as those of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descending the ladder of the lunar module to leave a mark temporary on the surface of the Moon but indelible in the memory of those who lived through it.

The second reason why Artemis, and more specifically Artemis I, is a milestone for the US space agency, is that It will be the long-awaited debut of the Space Launch System (SLS)the NASA project on which the agency has been working for more than a decade and which, when completed, will return the ability to launch into space without having to depend on third parties, as it has had to do for many years with the space agency Russia and, more recently, with SpaceX.

And the good news is that while there are still pre-launch checks to come, in principle everything would be ready for the same. Thus, the launch is scheduled for 2:33 on August 29, peninsular Spanish time, taking advantage of the first of a series of windows that will occur on those days. So if weather or other issues cause the launch to be delayed, there are more opportunities to launch in September, on the 2nd and 5th of that month.

The SLS launch will take place at Launch Complex 39B (LC-39B) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and, as the SLS payload, the Orion crew capsule will be found (filled this time with dummies that will collect data) that will carry out a 42-day mission in orbit around the Moon to collect data. After completing its mission, it will return to Earth, where it is expected to impact the ocean on October 10.

«As NASA’s first Artemis I launch attempt draws near, teams are moving ahead of schedule to complete final checkouts and shutdowns of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in FloridaNASA wrote in an update.

«Crews are retracting the VAB platforms that provide access to the rocket and spacecraft after engineers finished installing thermal blankets on the temporary cryogenic propulsion stage around the launch vehicle stage adapter. Technicians also replaced the flight doors on the engine section of the rocket’s core stage. Final inspections have been completed on those sections and they are ready for flight.«.

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