Despite a precarious week that has seen NASA leave its $4 billion megarocket out on the launchpad while Hurricane Nicole hit Florida and one launch date change already, NASA has confirmed Artemis I is a go for launch tomorrow. Hopefully, the most powerful rocket ever built will make it third time’s a charm and kickstart NASA’s new era of Moon missions.
Following confirmation that the storm had caused “minor damage” when a 3-meter (10-foot) section of RTV insulation from the Orion capsule came away, Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager, confirmed “there's no change in our plan to attempt to launch on the 16th," in a news conference yesterday.
If all goes to plan, the nearly 100-meters-tall (322-foot) Space Launch System (SLS) carrying the uncrewed Orion capsule will launch from the historic Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida at 1:04 am EST on November 16, and NASA’s dreams of sending the first woman and person of color to the surface of the Moon will get a step closer.
More powerful than the Saturn V rocket that took the Apollo missions to the Moon and back, SLS will attempt to deliver the Orion spacecraft to space, where it will make a flyby of the Moon and return to Earth after its 25-day mission. This new technology needs to demonstrate it is foolproof as it will one day take humans to the Moon, paving the way for 2024's Artemis II, the first crewed mission in lunar orbit since Apollo 17 in 1972.
How to watch Artemis I launch live
You can watch the historic moment live, though for many it means an early morning start. Coverage of the fueling starts today, November 15, at 3:30 pm EST, live coverage of the launch starts at 10:30 pm EST and the main event is due for launch tomorrow at 1:04 am EST (6:04 am UTC).
As usual, NASA is live streaming the event on NASA TV, its YouTube channel, and all social media, or you can bookmark this page and watch it here with us.
If you don't fancy staying up or setting the alarm for the very early morning, it should be worth tuning in at 10 am EST (3 pm UTC) when the Orion spacecraft is expected to beam back its first views of Earth. If this test is successful and Orion survives reentry through Earth's atmosphere, we're a step closer to the first images of Earth taken by humans from the Moon in 50 years.