Artemis 1 already flies to the Moon

Spectators watch Artemis 1 lift off from Platform 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. / Reuters

The mission that has taken off today is a first unmanned test of the one that will put the first woman on the earth's satellite in 2025

49 years, 11 months and 9 days later, a manned voyage ship left Cape Canaveral this morning bound for the Moon. The Artemis 1 mission, with which
NASA resumes human flights beyond Earth orbit After five decades, it has taken off at 7:47 a.m. in Spain (1:47 a.m. on the east coast of the United States). The trail of the Space Launch System (SLS, for its acronym in English) has torn the Florida night as on December 12, 1972 did that of Saturn 5 of Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the Moon and the first to took off at night.

Artemis 1 is a test flight of the largest rocket ever built, the SLS, and the Orion spacecraft. Composed of a rocket and two boosters, the SLS measures 98 meters high, which reach 111 with the Orion spacecraft and the exhaust system. The capsule has capacity for four astronauts, and its service module – the one that propels it, provides water and oxygen to the crew, generates electricity... – is made in Europe. "It is the first time that NASA uses a critical system made by ESA in a manned spacecraft," said those responsible for broadcasting the launch.

The Orion spacecraft's solar panels unfolding, 22 minutes after liftoff. /

NASA

Two and a half months after the announced date and after several failed attempts, Artemis 1 took off 44 minutes later than expected due to a small fuel leak and a communication failure between the mission control center and the megarocket. Once the NASA technicians have corrected those setbacks, the SLS has started its engines on platform 39B of the Kennedy Space Center and has risen into the sky at 7:47 hours. Two minutes later, the solid fuel boosters have been separated and, sixteen minutes later, the Orion's solar arrays have begun to unfold.

back to the moon

"It is our country's first step back to the Moon and to Mars," Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, the first woman to direct a NASA launch, said at the time at the mission control center. "This uncrewed test flight will push Orion to the limits of the rigors of deep space, helping us prepare for human exploration of the Moon and ultimately Mars," NASA Administrator concurred shortly afterward. Bill Nelson. "What you've done will inspire a generation," Blackwell-Thompson told mission technicians before cutting off a piece of his tie, a ritual every first-time launch director must undergo. Meanwhile, in orbit all was well. Orion had already deployed its four solar panels, and the capsule cameras – it has sixteen – sent images of these, of the ship and of our planet.

The 23-year-old Spaniard who participated in the construction:

Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis 1 launch manager, in a file image at Kennedy Space Center mission control. /

NASA/Cory Huston

The Orion,
whose guidance and control is directed by the Spanish engineer Eduardo García Llama from Houstonhas started the translunar injection maneuver an hour and a half after takeoff and will enter our satellite's orbit on Monday.
The Artemis 1 mission will last almost twenty-six daysduring which the technicians will check the correct operation of all the systems, biological experiments will be carried out and three mannequins will serve the NASA doctors to get an idea of ​​the effects on the human organism in deep space, where there are no shields against space radiation, from which on Earth the magnetosphere protects us.

The ship is captained by a dummy, Commander Moonikin Campos. Dressed in the space suit worn by astronauts on the Artemis missions, he is equipped with sensors to see how the human body reacts to the journey. He is accompanied by two female torsos, Helga and Zohar, to check the effects on human bones and tissues, and on the organs of an adult woman, of the lunar adventure. Because the last objective of Artemisa 1 is to serve as the first test for the conquest of the Moon. If everything goes well and the capsule lands in the Pacific, off San Diego, without problems on December 11, in 2024 Artemis 2 will orbit the Moon with four astronauts and a year later the first woman will set foot on the satellite on Artemis 3.

Artist's impression of the Orion spacecraft in Earth orbit. /

NASA

From that moment on, the Gateway station will be built in lunar orbit and several missions will put humans on the satellite in 2027 – ESA is negotiating with NASA for a European to step on the Moon soon – and in the following years. Then, early in the next decade, a permanent base will be created at the South Pole, where there are large amounts of frozen water that can be used for maintenance of astronauts and to obtain fuel for ships.