The history of American space travel has always had Huntsville at the center.
That history grew early Wednesday morning, as Artemis I, the first mission in a series that will bring humans to the Moon and, eventually, Mars, lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Teams from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Johnson Space Center in Houston and Kennedy Space Center in Florida monitored the rocket’s systems and viewers around the world watched with bated breath as Space Launch System (SLS) prepared to take flight for the first time.
Like many in the Huntsville area, I’ve always been intrigued by the space program. Though I grew up an hour to the west in Florence, I’ve always been proud to have close ties to Huntsville and love learning about the past, present and future of space exploration in Huntsville.
That’s why I knew I’d have to stay up late Tuesday night to watch the third launch attempt of SLS. The Artemis I mission officially began at 12:47AM Huntsville time, as SLS lit the night sky and shook the earth in Cape Canaveral, blasting off toward the Moon.
To the Moon + beyond
Artemis I is an uncrewed mission that is expected to last 26 days. Orion—the capsule at the very top of SLS and the part that is making the complete trip—is currently en route to the Moon, where it will get as close as 60 miles to the surface. Then, it will orbit around the moon 0.5-1.5 times before returning to Earth.
The mission is also carrying 10 CubeSats, which are science experiments and technology demonstrations that will help scientists learn more about the solar system + test tech for future Moon and Mars missions.
“What an incredible sight to see NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft launch together for the first time. This uncrewed flight test will push Orion to the limits in the rigors of deep space, helping us prepare for human exploration on the Moon and, ultimately, Mars.”Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator
Artemis I is an important step toward NASA’s mission to establish a human presence on the Moon, and send the first woman and person of color. The first crewed mission will be Artemis III, which is tentatively expected to launch in 2025.
Congratulations to all who worked to get Artemis I into space. Share your Artemis project stories with us on social by tagging @hvilleblast and using #hvilleblast.