Artemis I Moon Rocket Arrives at Launch Pad Ahead of Historic Mission

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, after being rolled out to the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s Artemis I mission is the first integrated test of the agency’s deep space exploration systems: the Orion spacecraft, SLS rocket, and supporting ground systems. Launch of the uncrewed flight test is targeted for no earlier than Aug. 29. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Around 7:30 a.m. EDT the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission arrived atop Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida after a nearly 10-hour journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building. 

In the coming days, engineers and technicians will configure systems at the pad for launch, which is currently targeted for no earlier than Aug. 29 at 8:33 a.m. (two hour launch window). Teams have worked to refine operations and procedures and have incorporated lessons learned from the wet dress rehearsal test campaign and have updated the launch timeline accordingly.  

NASA’s Mega Moon Rocket Begins Roll to Launch Pad

The Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission are rolling to Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of launch, currently targeted for Aug. 29. At about 10 p.m. EDT the crawler-transporter began the approximately 4-mile, journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to Launch Pad 39B.

Once outside the VAB high-bay doors, the Moon rocket will make a planned pause allowing the team to reposition the Crew Access Arm before continuing to the launch pad. The journey is expected to take between eight and 12 hours. NASA will provide an update once the rocket has arrived at the launch pad.

Artemis I Moon Rocket Ready to Roll to the Launch Pad

Engineers and technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida have completed the final testing and checkouts of the Artemis I Moon rocket ahead of rolling to Launch Pad 39B. NASA is targeting as soon as 9 p.m. EDT of Tuesday, Aug. 16 for rollout ahead of a targeted Aug. 29 launch.

The crawler-transporter will roll inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and under the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft later today. Teams are currently working to prepare the integrated stack for rollout.

Over the weekend the team completed testing of the flight termination system, which marked the final major activity prior to closing out the rocket and retracting the final access platforms in the VAB.

The agency will provide a live stream of the rollout beginning at 3 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 16 on the NASA Kennedy You Tube channel.

Teams Work Final Preparations for Roll Out of Artemis I Moon Rocket

Two manikins are installed in the passenger seats inside the Artemis I Orion crew module atop the Space Launch System rocket in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 8, 2022. As part of the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE) investigation, the two female manikins – Helga and Zohar – are equipped with radiation detectors, while Zohar also wears a radiation protection vest, to determine the radiation risk on its way to the Moon. Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

Engineers are conducting the last integrated test before the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft roll out to Launch Pad 39B next week for the launch of the Artemis I flight test. This week, teams began the second part of the flight termination system (FTS) test. The first part of the test was conducted earlier this year prior to the wet dress rehearsal.

For safety purposes, all rockets are required to have a system that the Space Launch Delta 45 can use to terminate the flight if necessary. Following completion of the FTS testing, the Eastern Range requires SLS to launch within a certain timeframe. In order to meet the Aug. 29 launch attempt and backup attempts on Sept. 2 and 5, NASA has received an extension from the Space Launch Delta 45 on the validation of the FTS from 20 to 25 days before the system would need to be retested. The waiver will be valid throughout the  Artemis I launch attempts.

Once the flight termination system testing is complete, teams will complete final closeouts on SLS and Orion before it rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building, including closing out the core stage and solid rocket boosters and retracting the remaining access platforms. The Orion crew module and launch abort system hatches were closed earlier this week, and Orion is in the final preparations for roll.

The Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment torsos, Helga and Zohar, outfitted with sensors to measure radiation levels future crew will be exposed to, have joined Commander Campos and are now installed inside the Orion spacecraft. The final payloads, including the agency’s Biology Experiment-1, will be installed once the rocket and spacecraft are at the pad for launch.

The agency is targeting Thursday, Aug. 18 to roll SLS and the Orion spacecraft to the spaceport’s Launch Pad 39B and will provide a live stream beginning at 6 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Aug. 17 on the NASA Kennedy You Tube channel.

 

 

Artemis I: Final Stage of Moon Rocket Preparations Underway 

A view of Moonikin “Campos” secured in a seat inside the Artemis I Orion crew module atop the Space Launch System rocket in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 3, 2022.
A view of Moonikin “Campos” secured in a seat inside the Artemis I Orion crew module atop the Space Launch System rocket in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 3, 2022.

As NASA’s first launch attempt for Artemis I approaches, teams are ahead of schedule to complete final checks and closeouts of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA is targeting launch on Aug. 29 during a two-hour launch window that opens at 8:33 a.m. EDT, with backup opportunities on Sept. 2 and 5. A successful launch on Aug. 29 would result in a mission duration of approximately 42 days, with a targeted Orion splashdown on Oct. 10.  

Teams are retracting the VAB platforms that provide access to the rocket and spacecraft after engineers completed installing thermal blankets on the interim cryogenic propulsion stage around the launch vehicle stage adapter. Technicians also replaced the engine section flight doors of the rocket’s core stage. Final closeout inspections are complete on those sections  and they are ready for flight.   

On the 212-foot-tall core stage, teams started flight closeouts inspections. Coming up, engineers will test the flight termination system elements in the intertank of the core stage and the forward skirts of the solid rocket boosters before SLS rolls out to the pad for launch.  

Launch and flight controllers, along with support personnel across NASA centers, completed their final launch countdown simulation ahead of the mission. The team has conducted many launch and flight simulations to prepare for Artemis I. 

Technicians also finished replacing the inflatable seal that sits between the mobile launcher’s crew access arm and Orion’s launch abort system and crew module to prevent anything from the outside environment getting inside the capsule. Teams have extended the crew access arm and are conducting final powered testing and installing the “passengers” that are part of the MARE investigation before closing the hatch ahead of rolling out to the launch pad, currently scheduled for Aug. 18.  

NASA also held two briefings earlier this week, a mission overview briefing and a detailed flight briefing, in which key personnel provided updates and specifics about the flight test. 

 

NASA’s ShadowCam Launches Aboard Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter

NASA’s ShadowCam is heading to the Moon aboard Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI)’s Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) mission. KPLO, also known as Danuri, launched at 7:08 p.m. EDT on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Launch Complex 40 on the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on August 4.

Developed by Arizona State University and Malin Space Science Systems, ShadowCam is one of five instruments on board KARI’s KPLO spacecraft.

A hypersensitive optical camera, ShadowCam, will collect images of permanently shadowed regions near the Moon’s poles. This will allow ShadowCam to map the reflectance of these regions to search for evidence of ice deposits, observe seasonal changes, and measure the terrain inside the craters. The ShadowCam instrument was designed based on previous imagers like those found on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, but it is several hundred times more light-sensitive to allow for capturing details within the permanently shadowed regions.

The data gathered from ShadowCam and the other KPLO instruments will support future lunar exploration efforts, including Artemis. The high-resolution imagery captured in extremely low-light conditions could help inform landing site selection and exploration planning for future Artemis missions by providing insight into terrain and lighting conditions, and the distribution and accessibility of resources like water ice that are useful for long-duration stays. The data from ShadowCam and the unprecedented views into the permanently shadowed regions could also help scientists learn more about how the Moon formed and evolved and about our solar system.

In addition to ShadowCam, NASA is also contributing communications and navigation support to KPLO and science support to the KPLO team via nine NASA-funded scientists. The Republic of Korea (ROK) signed the Artemis Accords last year and continues to collaborate with NASA on lunar exploration efforts.

In ROK, the orbiter is known as “Danuri” after a public naming contest resulted in a name combining the Korean words for “Moon” (dal) and “enjoy” (nuri).

Over the next 4.5 months, KPLO will use a fuel-saving Korean Ballistic Trajectory 62-mile (100 km) lunar polar orbit, where upon arrival, it will then begin operations on a planned 11-month mission.

Read more about ShadowCam and KPLO.