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Leaves! NASA launches massive moon rocket, ushering in a new era of exploration

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CAPE CANAVAL, FL - NOVEMBER 16: A NASA Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, with the Orion capsule, launches at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on November 16, 2022 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  - ap
CAPE CANAVAL, FL – NOVEMBER 16: A NASA Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, with the Orion capsule, launches at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on November 16, 2022 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. – ap

NASA launched the most powerful rocket ever built on a trip to the Moon on Wednesday, in a dazzling glow of light and sound that marked the beginning of… space agencyNew flagship program, Artemis.

The 32-story-tall Space Launch System (SLS) lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 01:47 a.m. (0647 GMT), achieving 8.8 million pounds (39 megatons) of thrust.

“What you did today will inspire future generations, thank you!” NASA’s first launch director, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, told her teammates.

steady on RocketThe unmanned Orion spacecraft, which will orbit Earth’s nearest neighbor, was on a test run for later flights that should see the first woman and first person of color land on lunar soil by the mid-2020s.

The last time America sent astronauts to the moon was during the Apollo era, from 1969 to 1972.

This time, it hopes to build a sustainable presence — including a lunar space station — to help prepare for a final mission to Mars in the 2030s.

There were nervous moments as the teams worked out technical issues that resolved in the two-hour launch window, which opened at 1:04 am.

First, engineers were forced to shut off the flow of liquid hydrogen to the core stage Tuesday night because of a leaky valve, but a team sent to the launch pad fixed the problem about an hour later, by tightening loose bolts.

Later, the space agency reported that a radar site monitoring the missile’s flight path was experiencing problems due to a faulty ethernet switch, which had to be replaced.

It was the third time NASA had been unlucky after two previous launch attempts were canceled due to technical reasons. The launch was also delayed due to weather setbacks, including Hurricane Ian that hit Florida in late September.

‘very excited’

About 100,000 people were expected to gather along the coast to witness the historic event.

Todd Garland, 55, traveled from Frankfort, Kentucky, to watch from Cocoa Beach.

He said he was wearing an Artemis shirt France Press agency Weeping: “This was an experience I’ve been looking forward to my whole life.

“My earliest memory is of my mother waking me up at the age of two to watch the moon landing, and I’ve always wanted to see the launch ever since, and now I do.”

Kerry Warner, 59, a semi-retired grandmother and teacher who lives in Florida, added that the launch was “part of America and what America is all about.”

far side of the moon

The Orion crew capsule was lifted by two boosters and four powerful motors under the core stage, which separated after only a few minutes.

A final push from the upper stage will put the capsule on its way to the Moon, though it will take several days to reach its destination.

In the meantime, the upper stage will launch 10 CubeSats to conduct science experiments, including one that will open a sail powered by sunlight and perform asteroid survey work.

Instead of landing on the Moon, Orion will assume a distant orbit, venturing 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) beyond the far side — farther than any other habitable spacecraft to date.

Finally, the spaceship will embark on the return leg of its journey. When passing through the atmosphere, the capsule’s heat shield would need to withstand a temperature about half that of the sun’s surface.

Although Orion does not carry humans this time around, it does have three dummies with sensors to help collect safety data for future crew members.

The mission will last 25 and a half days, with a landing in the Pacific Ocean on December 11th.

NASA is banking on a successful mission after developing the SLS rocket for more than a decade.

It will have invested more than $90 billion in its new lunar program by the end of 2025, according to a public review.

Artemis 2 will include a lunar flyby with astronauts in 2024, while Artemis 3 will see boots on the lunar land, no later than 2025. NASA hopes to stabilize the annual launch schedule, and it will include international partners from Japan, Canada and Europe.

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