Sep 2, 2022 - Science

NASA's new Moon rocket set for launch Saturday after delay

The Artemis I rocket on the launch pad
Artemis I awaiting launch. Photo: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

NASA's Space Launch System is set to take flight Saturday afternoon on an uncrewed trip to the Moon after the launch was called off Monday.

Why it matters: This mission — called Artemis I — is the first in NASA's bid to return people to the surface Moon for the first time since the end of the Apollo program.

What's happening: The two-hour launch window for the SLS opens at 2:17pm ET on Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

  • Once it launches, the SLS is expected to send the uncrewed Orion capsule on a journey around the Moon before the spacecraft comes back to Earth for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean about 40 days later.
  • NASA will air live coverage of the launch via NASA TV.
  • Right now, there is a 60% chance of good weather at launch time.

Between the lines: NASA was originally expected to get the SLS off the ground on Monday, but the launch was scrubbed due to multiple technical errors.

  • One of those issues involved a sensor showing that one of the four rocket engines wasn't getting to the right temperature.
  • Now mission managers think the problem was actually due to a faulty sensor, not the engine itself, and they made the decision to push ahead to launch this weekend.

The big picture: More attention is turning to the Moon now as NASA aims to land people back on the lunar surface in 2025.

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