NASA teams prepare for its Artemis I moon mission with testing

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — In less than a month, NASA plans to launch an uncrewed 42-day mission around the moon.

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NASA announced Wednesday it hopes to have an Aug. 29 launch.

Artemis I will be the first integrated flight test of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft.

It will also set the stage for NASA’s first crewed moon missions in decades to come.

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“And on these increasingly complex missions, astronauts will live and work in deep space and develop the science and technology we need to send the first humans to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

But before the astronauts can fly, NASA teams must show that the SLS rocket and Orion are ready. The teams have to demonstrate the ability of the Orion’s spacecraft’s heat shield to protect the spacecraft.

“Priority number 2 is to demonstrate the vehicle in the flight environment,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager. “That’s from the launchpad; all the way to the moon and back, back to Earth.”

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After it travels beyond the far side of the moon, Orion will splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego.

“I’m very pleased where we are in our preparation,” said Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis I launch director. “Certainly looking forward to finishing the work in the (Vehicle Assembly Building) and seeing this amazing vehicle roll to pad.”

More than 100,000 people are expected to travel to the Space Coast for the launch late this month, but there could be many more.

The rollout is scheduled for Aug. 18.

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