NASA’s powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft atop launched the agency’s Artemis I flight test from Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Moon rocket and spacecraft lifted off at 1:47 a.m. EST on Wednesday, November 16.

NASA’s Artemis I mission is the first integrated test of the agency’s deep space exploration systems: the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, and supporting ground systems. The mission is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to the Moon. With Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.


Credit: NASA

SLS represents a bold new vision for NASA’s human spaceflight program. In order to make a new generation – the Artemis Generation – of crewed missions to the Moon possible, the SLS rocket uses proven propulsion systems consisting of solid rocket boosters and liquid-fuel RS-25 engines mated to a new central core stage.

SLS uses larger solid rocket boosters than the space shuttles and liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen-fed RS-25 engines operating at a higher thrust level and with new controllers.

The core stage, an all-new development consisting of propellant tanks, avionics, and related equipment, houses the four RS-25s and provides attach points for the boosters. Above the core stage, the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) provides in-space propulsion. The launch vehicle stage adapter partially encloses the ICPS and changes the diameter of the rocket. The Orion stage adapter, located between SLS and the Orion crew vehicle, contains CubeSat payloads for the Artemis I mission and connects the rocket to the Orion spacecraft.

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