The Artemis I mission is ready to launch.
That’s the result of NASA’s Flight Readiness Review, which was conducted on Monday. The review was an in-depth assessment of the readiness of the 322-foot-tall (98-meter-tall) stack, consisting of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, currently sitting on the launchpad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Artemis team is targeting its first two-hour launch window from 8:33 a.m. ET to 10:33 a.m. ET on Monday, August 29. There are backup launch windows on September 2 and September 5.
The rocket stack arrived at the launchpad on August 17 after leaving the Vehicle Assembly Building after a 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) ride aboard one of the Apollo-era giant NASA crawlers from the assembly building to the launchpad – just like the shuttle missions and Apollo Saturn V rockets once did.
The uncrewed Artemis I will launch on a mission that goes beyond the moon and returns to Earth. Once it launches, the spacecraft will reach a distant retrograde orbit around the moon, traveling 1.3 million miles (2.1 million kilometers) over the course of 42 days. Artemis I will splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego on October 10. Orion’s return will be fast and hotter than any spacecraft has ever experienced on its way back to Earth.
The Orion spacecraft will travel farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown, reaching 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) beyond the far side of the moon, according to NASA.
There are no humans onboard, but Orion will carry 120 pounds (54.4 kilograms) of mementos, including toys, Apollo 11 items and three mannequins.
Sitting in the commander’s seat of Orion will be Commander Moonikin Campos, a suited mannequin that can collect data on what future human crews might experience on a lunar trip. The mannequin will wear the new Orion Crew Survival System suit designed for astronauts to wear during launch and reentry. The suit has two radiation sensors.
This mission will kick off NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the moon and land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface by 2025 – and eventually make way for human exploration of Mars.
Artemis I will also carry a number of science experiments, some of which will be installed once the rocket and spacecraft arrive at the launchpad.