Updated: Nov 15, 2022
The latest estimate for launch is (06:04am GMT) WEDNESDAY 16th November
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Courtesy of NASA
Artemis I will be the first major test of NASA’s deep space exploration systems.
The following will be tested:
1) The Orion spacecraft (the bit that goes deep into space - which will eventually carry astronauts)
2) The Space Launch System (SLS) - basically the big ol' rocket!
3) The ground systems at Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
It's the first in a series of increasingly complex missions, Artemis I will be an un-manned flight test that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrate the capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.
During this flight, the spacecraft will launch on the most powerful rocket in the world and fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown. It will travel 280,000 miles from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about a four to six-week mission.
Orion will stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before.
“This is a mission that truly will do what hasn’t been done and learn what isn’t known,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “It will blaze a trail that people will follow on the next Orion flight, pushing the edges of the envelope to prepare for that mission.”
The outbound trip to the Moon will take several days, during which time engineers will evaluate the spacecraft’s systems and, as needed, correct its trajectory. Orion will fly about 62 miles (100 km) above the surface of the Moon, and then use the Moon’s gravitational force to propel Orion into a new deep retrograde, or opposite, orbit about 40,000 miles (70,000 km) from the Moon.
The spacecraft will stay in that orbit for approximately six days to collect data and allow mission controllers to assess the performance of the spacecraft. During this period, Orion will travel in a direction around the Moon retrograde from the direction the Moon travels around Earth.
For its return trip to Earth, Orion will do another close flyby that takes the spacecraft within about 60 miles of the Moon’s surface, the spacecraft will use another precisely timed engine firing of the European-provided service module in conjunction with the Moon’s gravity to accelerate back toward Earth. This manoeuvre will set the spacecraft on its trajectory back toward Earth to enter our planet’s atmosphere traveling at 25,000 mph (11 kilometres per second), producing temperatures of approximately 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 degrees Celsius) – faster and hotter than Orion experienced during its 2014 flight test.
After about three weeks and a total distance travelled exceeding 1.3 million miles, the mission will end with a test of Orion’s capability to return safely to the Earth as the spacecraft makes a precision landing within eyesight of the recovery ship off the coast of Baja, California.
Can't wait for the launch and stick around to see it live here!
See a video of the mission right here:
Thank you to the media team at NASA for most of this article!