IEEE-USA lauds the first mission launch of NASA’s Artemis program, which lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida this week. The launch went forward after overcoming technical challenges and weather issues which caused earlier postponements. The uncrewed Artemis I is the first in a series of missions to build a long-term human presence on the Moon and explore the lunar south pole for the first time.
“Artemis is in many ways the spiritual successor of the Apollo program: ambitious and challenging while pushing new boundaries of space exploration,” said Deborah M. Cooper, 2022 IEEE-USA president. “In the years to come, we will look at this launch as humanity’s next great historic moment and the beginning of an incredible journey.”
This mission marks the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) super heavy-lift launch vehicle and Orion reusable spacecraft. The SLS and Orion were designed and manufactured by a coalition of American and international commercial aerospace partners.
Artemis I will now proceed on a 25-day round trip to the Moon, covering a total distance of 1.3 million miles before returning to Earth on December 11. The mission aims to test SLS and Orion’s capabilities in space and ensure a safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery prior to the first crewed flight. Artemis I will also deploy 10 small CubeSat satellites that will collect scientific data and relay communications.
“This historic flight launched atop the most powerful rocket ever built and will fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever gone before,” said Cooper. “Artemis will lay the foundation for the future of human deep space exploration, and it wouldn’t be possible without the dedication and hard work of countless engineers and scientists, including thousands of IEEE members.”
Future Artemis missions will return humans to the Moon for the first time in over 50 years and will send the first woman and first person of color to the lunar surface.