Data from SLS Flight Prepares NASA for Future Artemis Missions

The Space Launch System rocket with Orion atop lights up the night sky during launch, with smoke billowing beyond the launch pad.
NASA’s Space Launch System rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft launches on the Artemis I flight test, Nov. 16, 2022, from Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

NASA continues to evaluate data and learn more about the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s debut performance during the agency’s Nov. 16 Artemis I launch. Following an initial data assessment and review that determined the SLS rocket met or exceeded all performance expectations, SLS engineers are now taking a closer look at the Moon rocket’s performance to prepare for the first crewed Artemis missions.

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Orion on Its Way to the Moon

The interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) completed its approximately 18-minute trans-lunar injection (TLI) burn and the spacecraft has separated from the stage. Orion fired its auxiliary thrusters to move a safe distance away from the expended stage and the spacecraft is on its way to the Moon.

NASA will hold a postlaunch news conference at 5 a.m. EST today from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Participants are:

    • Bill Nelson, NASA administrator
    • Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager, NASA Headquarters
    • Mike Bolger, Exploration Ground Systems Program manager, Kennedy
    • John Honeycutt, Space Launch System Program manager, Marshall
    • Howard Hu, Orion Program manager, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
    • Emily Nelson, chief flight director, Johnson

Perigee Raise Maneuver Complete

The perigee raise maneuver has been successfully completed. The interim cryogenic propulsion stage fired for just over 20 seconds to raise the lowest point of Orion’s Earth orbit in preparation for the critical trans-lunar injection burn that will send Orion to the Moon. The trans-lunar injection burn is currently targeted for about 3:14 a.m. EST and will last about 18 minutes.

Artemis I Liftoff

NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, carrying the uncrewed Orion spacecraft lifted off from Launch Complex 39B in Florida at 1:47 a.m. EST.

The primary goal of Artemis I is to thoroughly test the integrated systems before crewed missions by operating the spacecraft in a deep space environment, testing Orion’s heat shield, and recovering the crew module after reentry, descent, and splashdown.

 Below are the ascent milestones that will occur over the next two hours. Times may vary by several seconds.

  • Solid rocket booster separation (Mission Elapsed Time 00:02:12)
  • Service module fairing jettison (MET 00:03:11)
  • Launch abort system jettison (MET 00:03:16)
  • Core stage main engine cutoff commanded (MET 00:08:03)
  • Core stage/ICPS separation (MET 00:08:15)
  • Orion solar array wing deploy begins (MET 00:18:09) – approx. 12 min duration
  • Perigee raise maneuver (MET 00:52:56)
  • Trans-lunar injection (MET 01:29:27)
  • Orion/ICPS separation (MET 01:57:36)

Launch Managers Give “Go” to Proceed with Terminal Count, Launch Set for 1:47 a.m.

The mission management team has polled “go” to proceed with the terminal count sequence. The launch director is also “go” and teams have set a new target launch time of 1:47 a.m. EST and the countdown clock  resumed at 1:37 a.m.

With approval from the launch director and managers, a series of countdown milestones for the Artemis I terminal count to launch will be initiated by the Ground Launch Sequencer at T-10 minutes:

  • Ground Launch Sequencer (GLS) initiates terminal count (T-10M)
  • GLS go for core stage tank pressurization (T-6M)
  • Orion ascent pyros are armed (T-6M)
  • Orion set to internal power (T-6M)
  • Core Stage LH2 terminate replenish (T-5M57S)
  • GLS is go for flight termination system (FTS) arm (T-5M)
  • GLS is go for LH2 high flow bleed check (T-4M40S)
  • GLS is go for core stage auxiliary power unit (APU) start (T-4M)
  • Core Stage auxiliary power unit starts (T-4M)
  • Core stage L0X terminate replenish (T-4M)
  • ICPS LOX terminate replenish (T-3M30S)
  • GLS is go for purge sequence 4 (T-3M10S)
  • ICPS switches to internal battery power (T-1M56S)
  • Core stage switches to internal power (T-1M30S)
  • ICPS enters terminal countdown mode (T-1M20S)
  • ICPS LH2 terminate replenish (T-50S)
  • GLS sends “Go for automated launch sequencer” command (T-33S)
  • Core stage flight computer to automated launching sequencer (T-30S)
  • Hydrogen burn off igniters initiated (T-12S)
  • GLS sends the command for core stage engine start (T-10S)
  • RS-25 engines startup (T-6.36S)

Liftoff (T-0)

  • Solid rocket booster separation (Mission Elapsed Time 00:02:12)
  • Service module fairing jettison (MET 00:03:11)
  • Launch abort system jettison (MET 00:03:16)
  • Core stage main engine cutoff commanded (MET 00:08:03)
  • Core stage/ICPS separation (MET 00:08:15)
  • Orion solar array wing deploy begins (MET 00:18:09) – approx. 12 min duration
  • Perigee raise maneuver (MET 00:52:56)
  • Trans-lunar injection (MET 01:29:27)
  • Orion/ICPS separation (MET 01:57:36)

The timing of events after liftoff may vary by a few seconds.

Teams to Target New Launch Time

Teams have extended their planned 30-minute hold, and mission managers are expected to target a new time for launch. The Eastern Range and launch teams have since resolved an issue that caused a loss of signal from a radar site and are currently in the process of conducting required tests to ensure communication and tracking of the rocket and spacecraft.