NASA Space Launch System is at the rocket pad ready for launch of Artemis 1

The mission will also pave the way for Artemis II, which will send astronauts on the same trip around the moon and back. Artemis III, meanwhile, will launch aboard SpaceX’s fully reusable Starship rocket, which could carry out its first orbital flight in September. Artemis III will send astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time since Apollo 17, including the first woman and person of color to reach the moon.

Massive crowds will gather to watch Artemis I

If Artemis I does launch on August 29, it is expected to return and make a splashdown over the Pacific Ocean on October 10. The mission will have lasted approximately 42 days. However, NASA has also set aside provisional launch dates of September 2 and 5 in case preparations aren’t completed by the first window or weather conditions are unfavorable. If the launch doesn’t take place by September 5, SLS will have to be rolled back to the VAB to charge its flight termination system. That would mean the launch would likely be postponed until October.

For the time being, it seems like preparations are going smoothly and we may finally see the much-delated launch of SLS take place this summer. Though the SLS program has faced criticism for going over budget and for being non-reusable as opposed to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and upcoming Starship, excitement is still palpable for the upcoming launch. As per Florida Today, so many people clamored to buy tickets last week to watch the launch that NASA’s website crashed. With more than 100,000 visitors expected to make their way to Florida’s Space Coast for the launch, it will be quite the spectacle.

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