Miami, Aug 27 (Globe Live Media).– NASA began this Saturday the countdown to the takeoff of the unmanned mission Artemis I from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida (USA), which will depart for the Moon next Monday at 8:33 local time (12:33 GMT).
The countdown began at 10:23 a.m. local time (2:23 p.m. GMT), more than 46 hours before Monday’s historic launch, with which NASA resumes travel beyond low Earth orbit.
As reported this Saturday by the US space agency, there are 70% favorable weather conditions for the launch that day of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, with the Orion spacecraft at its cusp, from platform 39B Kennedy Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
NASA is keeping an eye on what at the moment is nothing more than isolated showers forecast during Monday’s two-hour launch window.
On the launch pad, “engineers closed the launch abort system hatch and retracted the crew access arm,” the space agency reported in a blog dedicated to Artemis I.
The mission will serve to test the capabilities of the SLS rocket, the most powerful built to date and almost 100 meters high, and of the Orion capsule in which it will be a 42-day round trip trip to the Moon and during which some 2.1 million kilometers will have been covered.
It will be the first of the Artemis program, with which NASA wants to close a parenthesis of more than half a century without a crew setting foot on the Earth satellite and explore more distant horizons, including the planet Mars.
According to the Florida Space Coast Tourism Office, expectations are high and at least more than 100,000 visitors are expected in 115 kilometers of the Florida coastline to see the takeoff of Artemis I.
“Most of the hotel rooms along the beach are sold out,” the executive director of this office, Peter Cranis, told Efe.
It is expected that, during 2024, NASA will send the Artemis II, which will make the same journey as its predecessor, but this time with a crew, and the following year the manned Artemis III mission will do the same, which will also carry the first woman and person of color to the lunar surface.