HUNTSVILLE – NASA officials on Wednesday offered insight into the inner workings of the Artemis mission and the Space Launch System (SLS) program, which will bring Americans back to the lunar surface and ultimately lead to the exploration of an uncharted frontier.
The ambitious Artemis mission is poised to forge a new era of exploration and discovery of human space, which experts say will lead to scientific and technological advances. Artemis’ goal is to maintain an active human presence on the Moon, where planning will be conducted regarding future missions to Mars.
The SLS assembled in Huntsville is the first primary launch vehicle for the multi-phased Artemis mission. According to Jody Singer, director of the Marshall Space Flight Center, SLS “will be the most powerful rocket in the world.”
Singer said more than 1,100 companies have partnered to support the SLS program, which has generated an economic impact of $ 5.5 billion and created more than 28,000 jobs nationwide.
– Dylan Smith (@DylanSmithAL) September 8, 2021
According to SLS program manager John Honeycutt, the mission consists of several phases: Artemis I, Artemis II and Artemis III-V. The first and second phases involve launching human spacecraft to the moon, sending humans into orbit around the moon and soaring into deep space, which has yet to take place in during this century. The third through fifth phases consist of pioneering deep space crew missions.
Around a timeline to expect the first launch to happen, Honeycutt has remained without a commitment on a specific date, but has maintained its desire for the launch to take place towards the end of the year.
“We haven’t set a launch date yet, [m]Our team is working towards the end of the year, ”said Honeycutt. “The agency has decided that we will not set a launch date until we have completed the wet dress rehearsal,” referring to the last major test before the first launch which will take place at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Honeycutt further estimated that the final stages of preparation for the first launch would not be completed until a date around November.
Aerospace industry giants such as Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing, Teledyne Brown, United Launch Alliance (ULA), Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, all of whom conduct critical space operations in Huntsville, were instrumental in the success of the rocket construction. .
Kimberly Johnson, CEO and Executive Director of US Space & Rocket Center touted Huntsville’s role in leading the Artemis generation in 21st century space exploration.
“We’re going back to the moon to establish a long-term presence and ultimately figure out what it takes to live off the planet and make our first big leap to Mars,” Johnson said. “It all starts here in Rocket City. As in Apollo, Rocket City paves the way for America’s return to the moon. The most powerful rocket ever developed, the Space Launch System will soon take its place alongside the iconic Saturn V, which has been such a symbol for our community, Space & Rocket Center, and for the great achievements of the US space program. .
Along with the historic launch sending the United States back to the moon and opening a new avenue for modern space exploration, it will see the first woman and person of color walk the lunar surface.
Dylan Smith is a writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL