The Artemis I lunar mission could start in late May: these are the latest forecasts from NASA, which move the timeline of the first crucial step of the initiative that will bring man back to the moon a little further. Previously it was thought / hoped for a launch by April, but the hypothesis was categorically ruled out in the last briefing held by the streaming space agency (we have incorporated the video a little further down).
The good news is that the SLS rocket tests have been completed: the engineers are still analyzing the data, but the entire mission, therefore the SLS rocket and the Orion space module, will soon be able to leave their shipyard (the VAB or Vehicle Assembly Building) towards the launch pad. There another crucial test will be conducted, called “wet dress rehearsal”, in which the rocket’s tanks are filled with fuel.
The journey from the VAB, located in the Kennedy Space Center, to the ramp will take approximately 11 hours. It will be a sight, NASA anticipates: the rocket is quite massive, with a height of 122 meters and a weight of 7,700 tons. The wet dress rehearsal will be decisive for having a more precise estimate on the launch date, because it is a rather complicated and delicate procedure. Of course, other parameters, such as weather conditions, will also be considered. In this specific case, NASA has also stressed the importance of a launch in broad daylight.
Artemis I, we said, will be the first of the three main missions that will bring man back to the lunar soil. It will be unmanned, and will in fact serve as a test flight for both the rocket and the capsule. Orion will arrive in lunar orbit and stay there for about six days, then return to Earth. Artemis II is scheduled for 2024: it will be more or less similar, but this time there will be a crew of at least four astronauts on board.
Finally, with Artemis III, there will be the real landing on the Moon human – at the moment it is planned for 2025. So far, at least eight missions have been planned for the following years: all those from V to VIII plan to bring other astronauts to the surface of our satellite.