How to watch the Artemis I mission lift off to the moon | CNN

Look to CNN for live coverage from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday afternoon. Space correspondent Kristin Fisher will bring us instant reports from the launch, along with a team of experts.


The uncrewed Artemis I mission is ready for another launch attempt this weekend.

The Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft are scheduled to lift off between 2:17 p.m. and 4:17 p.m. ET Saturday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Although there is no crew on board, the mission is the first step in the Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the moon and eventually land them on Mars.

There is a 60% chance of favorable weather conditions for the launch, with chances increasing to 80% favorable towards the end of the window, weather manager Melody Lovin said at a press conference Friday morning.

If the rocket cannot launch on Saturday, the next possible launch window would be Monday.

Once launched, the Orion spacecraft will enter a far retrograde orbit of the moon and travel 40,000 miles beyond, going farther than any spacecraft intended to carry humans. Crews will board Artemis II on a similar trajectory in 2024, and astronauts are expected to arrive at the lunar south pole in late 2025 as part of the Artemis III mission. The Artemis program aims to land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon.

The agency will share live views and coverage in English and Spanish before, during and after the launch of Artemis I on its website and on NASA TV. The broadcast will begin at 5:45 a.m. ET as supercold propellant is loaded into the SLS rocket.

After the launch, NASA will hold a briefing and later on Saturday will share the first views of Earth from cameras aboard the Orion spacecraft. The virtual telescope project will attempt to share live views of Orion en route to the moon shortly after launch.

Orion’s journey will take around 38 days as he travels to the moon, loops around it and back to Earth – traveling 1.3 million miles (2.1 million kilometres). The capsule will dive into the Pacific Ocean off San Diego on October 11.

Cameras inside and outside Orion will share images and video throughout the mission, including live views from the Callisto experiment, which will capture a feed from a dummy called Commander Moonikin Campos in the commander’s seat. If you have an Amazon Alexa-enabled device, you can ask it for the mission’s location daily.

Here’s everything you can expect before, during and after launch.

Early Saturday, the launch team will conduct a weather briefing and decide to begin fuel the rocket.

If all looks good, the team will begin powering the rocket’s mid-stage, then powering its upper stage. Then the team will top up and replenish the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that dissipates during the refueling process.

Approximately 50 minutes before launch, the NASA Test Director’s final briefing will take place. The Launch Director will interview the team to ensure each station is ready 15 minutes before takeoff.

At 10+ minutes, things kick into high gear as the spacecraft and rocket take the final stages. Much of the action takes place in the last minute when the ground-based launch sequencer sends the command to the rocket’s flight computer’s automated launch sequencer to take over.

In the final seconds, the hydrogen will burn, all four RS-25 engines will start, resulting in a booster ignition and liftoff at T minus zero.

The solid rocket boosters will separate from the spacecraft approximately two minutes into flight and crash into the Atlantic Ocean, with other components also jettisoned soon after. The rocket’s core stage will separate about eight minutes later and fall toward the Pacific, allowing the wings of Orion’s solar panels to unfold.

The perigee-raising maneuver will take place approximately 12 minutes after launch, when the cryogenic propulsion midstage will undergo a burn to raise Orion’s altitude so that it does not re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.

Shortly thereafter occurs the trans-lunar injection burn, when the ICPS increases Orion’s speed from 17,500 miles per hour (28,163 kilometers per hour) to 22,600 miles per hour (36,371 kilometers per hour) to escape the pull of Earth’s gravity and set off for the moon.

After this burn, the ICPS will separate from Orion.

At approximately 9:45 p.m. ET, Orion will perform its first outbound course correction using the European Service Module, which provides the spacecraft with power, propulsion and thermal control. This maneuver will put Orion on a path to the moon.

The next few days after launch, Orion will venture to the moon, less than 96 kilometers away on its closest approach on the sixth day of the trip. The service module will place Orion in a distant retrograde orbit around the moon on day 10.

Orion will also surpass the distance record of 248,654 miles (400,169 kilometers) – set by Apollo 13 in 1970 – on Day 10 when it circles the moon. The spacecraft will reach its maximum distance from Earth of 280,000 miles (450,616 kilometers) on September 23 when it ventures 40,000 miles (64,373 kilometers) beyond the moon.

READ MORE: Artemis I in numbers

That’s 30,000 miles (48,280 kilometers) more than Apollo 13’s record.

Orion will make its second closest approach to the lunar surface, less than 804 kilometers away, on October 5. The service module will undergo a burn that will allow the moon’s gravity to send Orion back on its way to Earth.

Just before re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the service module will separate from Orion. The spacecraft will reach the top of Earth’s atmosphere traveling at around 25,000 miles per hour (40,233 kilometers per hour), and its heat shield will experience temperatures of nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 degrees Celsius).

The atmosphere will slow Orion to about 300 miles per hour (482 kilometers per hour), and a series of parachutes will slow it to less than 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour) before it crashes into the Pacific at 2:22 a.m. ET on October 11.

Splashdown will be broadcast live from the NASA website, with views from 17 cameras aboard the recovery ship and helicopters awaiting Orion’s return.

The landing and recovery team will collect the Orion capsule, and the spacecraft data will determine lessons learned before humans return to the moon.

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