(CNN) — For the first time in 50 years, a spacecraft is about to embark on a journey to the Moon.
The mission Artemis I The crew, which includes the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft, is scheduled to lift off Aug. 29 between 8:33 a.m. ET and 10:33 a.m. ET from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
And while there’s no human crew aboard the mission, it’s the first stage of the Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the Moon and eventually land them on Mars.
The Orion spacecraft will enter a far retrograde orbit of the Moon and travel 64,000 kilometers (40,000 miles) farther, going farther than any spacecraft intended to carry humans. Crews will travel aboard Artemis II on a similar trajectory in 2024, and the first woman and next man to land on the moon are expected to arrive at the lunar south pole in late 2025 as part of the Artemis III mission.
The agency will share live views as well as coverage in English and Spanish before, during and after the launch of Artemis I on your website and on NASA TV. The broadcast will begin at 12 p.m. ET when the supercold propellant is loaded onto the SLS rocket.
The program includes celebrity appearances from Jack Black, Chris Evans and Keke Palmer and performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Josh Groban and Herbie Hancock and “America the Beautiful” by the Philadelphia Orchestra and cellist Yo- Yo Ma.
Once launched, NASA will hold a post-launch briefing, and later today the agency will share the first views of Earth from cameras aboard the Orion spacecraft.
Orion’s journey will last 42 days as he travels to the moon, around it and back to Earth, covering a total of 2.1 million kilometers (1.3 million miles). The capsule will land in the Pacific Ocean off San Diego on October 10.
Orion’s on and off cameras will share images and video throughout the mission, including live views from the Callisto experiment, which will capture footage of a dummy called Commander Moonikin Campos seated in the commander’s seat. If you have an Amazon Alexa-enabled device, you can ask her for the location of the mission every day.
It’s everything you can expect before, during and after launch.
countdown to launch
The official launch countdown began Aug. 27 at 10:23 a.m. ET.
The call for stations went out Saturday morning at the Kennedy Space Center, along with teams providing support from various centers across the country. This is when all teams associated with the mission reach their consoles and signal that they are ready, beginning a two-day countdown.
Over the weekend, engineers will power the Orion spacecraft, the intermediate cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) – the top of the rocket – and the core stage, charge the batteries and perform final engine preparation.
Late Sunday night through Monday morning, the launch team will hold a briefing to discuss weather conditions and decide whether to “go” or “not go” to begin fueling the rocket.
If all looks good, the team will start fueling the rocket’s core stage eight hours before launch. Five hours earlier, the upper stage will start refueling. The team will then refuel and replenish liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that are dissipated during the refueling process.
Approximately 50 minutes before launch, the final NASA test lead briefing will take place. A scheduled 30-minute countdown will begin 40 minutes before launch.
The Launch Director will interview the team to ensure that all stations are “on” 15 minutes prior to liftoff.
At 10+ minutes, things kick into high gear as the spacecraft and rocket take the final stages. Much of the action happens at the last minute, when the ground-based launch sequencer sends the command to the rocket’s flight computer’s automated launch sequencer to take over about 30 seconds before launch.
During the last few seconds, the hydrogen will burn, all four RS-25 engines will start, resulting in accelerated firing and a T-minus zero takeoff.
trip to the moon
After liftoff, the rocket boosters will separate from the spacecraft approximately two minutes after flight and fall into the Atlantic Ocean, with the other components also being disposed of soon after. The core portion of the rocket will separate approximately eight minutes later and fall into the Pacific Ocean, allowing Orion’s solar array wings to unfurl.
The lift maneuver will take place approximately 12 minutes after launch, when the ICPS will undergo a burn to raise Orion’s altitude so that it does not re-enter Earth’s atmosphere. Shortly after, the translunar injection burn occurs, when the ICPS increases Orion’s speed from 17,500 miles per hour (28,163 kilometers per hour) to 22,600 miles per hour (36,371 kilometers per hour) for escape the pull of Earth’s gravity and go to the Moon. .
After this burn, ICPS will separate from Orion.
Around 4:30 p.m., Orion will perform its first departure trajectory correction using the European Service Module, which provides the spacecraft with power, propulsion and thermal control. This maneuver will set Orion on course for the Moon.
The next few days after launch, Orion will venture to the Moon, coming within 96 kilometers (60 miles) on its closest approach to the lunar surface on the sixth day of the voyage, or September 3 if the launch occurs as scheduled on August 29. The service module will place Orion in a retrograde orbit around the Moon on September 10 or 7.
On September 8, when it orbits the Moon, Orion will surpass the distance record of 400,169 kilometers (248,654 miles), set by Apollo 13 in 1970. The spacecraft will reach its maximum distance from Earth of 450,616 kilometers (280,000 miles). 23 when it ventures 64,373 kilometers (40,000 miles) beyond the Moon.
That’s 48,280 kilometers (30,000 miles) more than Apollo 13’s record.
Orion will make its second closest approach to the lunar surface, within 500 miles (804 kilometers) on October 3. The service module will undergo a burn that will allow the moon’s gravity to bring Orion back to Earth.
Just before re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the service module will separate from Orion. The spacecraft will reach the top of Earth’s atmosphere traveling at around 25,000 miles per hour (40,233 kilometers per hour), and its heat shield will experience temperatures of nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 degrees Celsius).
The atmosphere will slow Orion to about 300 miles per hour (482 kilometers per hour), and a series of parachutes will slow it to less than 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour) before it crashes into the ocean. Pacific at 11:53 a.m.
The splashdown will be streamed live from NASA’s website, compiling views from 17 cameras aboard the recovery ship and helicopters that will await Orion’s return.
The landing and recovery team will recover the Orion capsule, and the data collected by the spacecraft will determine the lessons learned before humans return to the Moon.