Artemis 1 Captures Stunning Views of Earth as It Heads for the Moon
This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.

Artemis 1 is finally on its way to the moon. NASA’s long-delayed moon rocket lifted off in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, lighting up the night sky with the most powerful operational rocket engines in the world. The mission will last several weeks as the Orion module loops around the moon, but first, it stole a look back at Earth, returning a stunning view of our home planet.

It took several tries to get Artemis 1 underway — there were both technical and weather difficulties in recent weeks. That comes after years of delay during the design and manufacturing process. But it was all worth the effort as the Space Launch System (SLS) performed perfectly.

The Orion module features 16 cameras, some of which are designed to monitor the spacecraft (both inside and out) and others for observing the moon. Shortly after launch, NASA used the external cameras to look at Earth, returning the footage below. It shows Earth just a few thousand miles away, but Orion is traveling at more than 5,000 miles per hour. If you want to keep an eye on Orion, NASA has a website that tracks its position and status in real time.

Artemis 1 is an uncrewed mission, and at 42 days it will be the longest flight for Orion in the entire Artemis Program. Unlike the Apollo moon landings, NASA did not include a landing system with Orion. Its job is simply to take astronauts from Earth to lunar orbit and bring them home. A vessel like the SpaceX Starship HLS will rendezvous in lunar orbit and transport crew to and from the surface.

If all goes as planned, Orion will return to Earth, having orbited the moon and demonstrated its safety, at the tail end of 2022. That will give NASA the data it needs to begin preparing for Artemis 2, currently slated for May 2024. This crewed mission will not include a landing, but Artemis 3 in 2025 is expected to see the first humans walking on the moon in decades. Future missions will also work toward setting up the Gateway Station in lunar orbit with the aim of creating a permanent human presence around the moon.

The long wait between launches is due in part to the expendable nature of the SLS. NASA has to build a new rocket for each launch, contributing to a cost that NASA’s auditor has said could more than double the planned $2 billion budget per launch.

Now read:

Leave a Reply