NASA’s Artemis Program Blasts Off After Unmanned Artemis I Mission Launches to the Moon


“Artemis-1 on LC-39B, April 7, 2022 (51990037490)” by Charles Boyer is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

After many long months of infuriating delays, weather problems, and technical difficulties, the Artemis I mission finally blasted off for the very first time on Nov. 16th, 2022 from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. 

The SLS, or Space Launch System, carried an unmanned Orion crew capsule into Earth’s orbit, marking its first real debut in space.

The massive rocket lifted off in a grand display of thundering roars and superheated gas that glowed as bright at the sun on a clear day. The rocket illuminated the night sky, as an energetic crowd watched in awe.

The Artemis Program has been the latest and greatest space program dream up by NASA, with the aim of returning astronauts to the moon in order to establish a more long-term human presence.

Humans have not set foot on the moon since late 1972 — a time in which the famed Apollo Program was still active. The NASA budget was slashed in 1969, only allowing for six more missions to the moon.

NASA fully intends to relive the glory days of the Apollo era, this time with greatly improved spacecraft, landing systems, and surface operation devices.

The mission includes a variety of different components, including lunar landers, manned surface rovers, and surface habitats, all of which will help astronauts live on the lunar surface for longer durations of time.

The technological extent of the program doesn’t just end there. Another key, revolutionary aspect of the Artemis Program is the Gateway Space Station: an orbital lunar outpost that will circle the moon during crewed missions. 

At present, the ISS (International Space Station) and the Chinese Tiangong Space Station are the only two operational crewed space stations, both of which remain in low Earth orbit. The Artemis Program will change that, making Gateway the first ever space station to orbit a celestial body other than Earth.

Having a qualified crew for later manned missions is also vital to the success of the program. One crew member, Nicole A. Mann, current Artemis Program astronaut and former United States Marine Corps pilot, is actually from Petaluma.

The first manned mission, Artemis II, is expected to launch in May of 2024, and the first moon landing since 1972 is projected to occur sometime in 2025 with the Artemis III mission.