NASA has announced that it is now aiming to launch Artemis 1, an unmanned mission that will return the US space agency to the Moon in February 2022 after decades. The rescheduling of the launch has delayed the mission by at least three months. The ambitious program was initially scheduled to start in November. The delay is mainly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hurricane Ida and other factors. The agency said in an update that the launch period of Artemis 1 is now from February 12 to February 27.
The space agency said they have wrapped the installation of the Orion spacecraft on top of the Space Launch System, which is more than 320 feet (98 meters) tall, Reported by SpaceNews. The briefing was the first formal confirmation by NASA that Artemis 1 would not launch this year.
The Artemis 1 spacecraft will undergo testing inside the assembly building and will then be sent to the launch complex. A wet dress rehearsal, where the main stage is promoted and the practice countdown goes through, is likely to take place in January.
“We’re looking at a time period within February,” said Tom Whitmire, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development. “We’re very excited. We think it’s a really tremendous progress.”
The first chance of launch will be available on 12 February and will run till 27 February. More such occasions will run from March 12 to March 27 and from April 8 to April 23.
The Orion spacecraft will launch on an SLS rocket to reach the Moon. The mission is expected to last for a few weeks and then Orion will fall into the Pacific Ocean.
NASA’s initial plan was to send a test flight Artemis 1 by the end of this year and then land astronauts on Artemis 3 by 2024.