Nasa's new rocket in place for its launch to the Moon in 12 days
Sylvie Claire / August 18, 2022
The big day is approaching for NASA: the new American giant rocket SLS arrived Wednesday morning on its launch pad, at Cape Canaveral in Florida, before its liftoff to the Moon scheduled in 12 days.
This mission will mark the very first flight of the great American program of return to the Moon, called Artemis.
Artemis 1 will be conducted without astronauts on board, as its purpose is to test the rocket and capsule at its apex to ensure that they will be able to safely transport a crew to the Moon, as early as 2024.
The rocket, called SLS (for Space Launch System), has been in development for more than a decade and will become the most powerful rocket in the world when it takes off. It is 98 meters high.
It was installed on the legendary launch complex 39B after a 10-hour overnight trip from the assembly building.
To all of us who look up to the Moon, dreaming of the day when humanity will return to the lunar surface, folks, we're there, we're going back, Nasa boss Bill Nelson said earlier this month at a press conference.
The Orion capsule will be propelled to the Moon, and even 64,000 km beyond, venturing further than any other habitable spacecraft before it.
At its return in the terrestrial atmosphere, the heat shield will have to support a speed of almost 40.000 km/h and a temperature half as hot as the surface of the Sun.
The takeoff must take place on August 29 at 08H33 local time. If the weather is not cooperative, the fallback dates are September 2 or 5.
The mission should last 42 days in total, until a return to the Pacific Ocean, where the spacecraft will be recovered by a US Navy ship.
In 2024, the Artemis 2 mission will carry astronauts to orbit around the Moon, without landing. This honor will be reserved for the crew of Artemis 3, a mission planned for 2025 at the earliest.
The last time men went to the Moon was with Apollo 17 in 1972.