NASA Successfully Launches Artemis I After Months of Delays

After a handful of delays throughout the past couple of months, the Artemis I mission is finally a go. Early Wednesday morning, NASA successfully launched Artemis I's SLS and Orion capsule into space, where the latter will be involved in a weeks-long trip around the lunar surface. Artemis I was originally scheduled to launch in August.

"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," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said of the launch.

The Orion capsule on Artemis I is unmanned as mission experts gather the necessary data to ensure safe travels for a future crewed flight. If all goes to plan through splashdown on Artemis I, it's expected a similar trip will take place with Artemis II, with the addition of a full crew. Artemis III will then return astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972. Artemis III is currently set to launch at some point in 2025.

"It's taken a lot to get here, but Orion is now on its way to the Moon," added Jim Free, NASA deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. "This successful launch means NASA and our partners are on a path to explore farther in space than ever before for the benefit of humanity."

The craft was originally set to launch in August, but was postponed due to a fault temperature sensor. Its scheduled September launch was then delayed because of a liquid hydrogen leak. Factor in two separate hurricanes threatening the integrity of the rockets at the launch pad, and we get to this point in time.

"The Space Launch System rocket delivered the power and performance to send Orion on its way to the Moon," concluded Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager. "With the accomplishment of the first major milestone of the mission, Orion will now embark on the next phase to test its systems and prepare for future missions with astronauts."