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NASA launches Artemis I moon mission after years of delay

After two failed attempts, NASA’s Artemis I rocket lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Nov. 16. (Video: NASA)

NASA’s giant Space Launch System the Orion spacecraft lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 1:47 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday, propelling the autonomous spacecraft, without any astronauts on board, on a test flight scheduled to last 25 days, 11 hours and 36 minutes, ending with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego.

The launch came 43 minutes into a two-hour launch window that opened at 1:04 a.m.

Here’s what to know

  • The SLS has never flown before. Two previous launch attempts, one in late August and another in early September, were waved off because of technical issues: a faulty engine sensor valve and persistent leaks of the liquid hydrogen the SLS uses as fuel. Another attempt was canceled because of Hurricane Ian.
  • If all goes well on this test flight, known as Artemis I, NASA will put astronauts on the next mission, called Artemis II, to orbit around the moon, perhaps as early as 2024. A human landing on the lunar surface, the first since the last of the Apollo mission in 1972, could come in 2025 or later.
  • The Artemis I flight will travel a total of 1.3 million miles and reenter the Earth’s atmosphere at 24,500 mph, or Mach 32. NASA wants to see how well the Orion’s heat shield performs under those extreme conditions before putting astronauts on board.
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Here's what to know:

The SLS has never flown before. Two previous launch attempts, one in late August and another in early September, were waved off because of technical issues: a faulty engine sensor valve and persistent leaks of the liquid hydrogen the SLS uses as fuel. Another attempt was canceled because of Hurricane Ian.
If all goes well on this test flight, known as Artemis I, NASA will put astronauts on the next mission, called Artemis II, to orbit around the moon, perhaps as early as 2024. A human landing on the lunar surface, the first since the last of the Apollo mission in 1972, could come in 2025 or later.
The Artemis I flight will travel a total of 1.3 million miles and reenter the Earth’s atmosphere at 24,500 mph, or Mach 32. NASA wants to see how well the Orion’s heat shield performs under those extreme conditions before putting astronauts on board.

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