NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) super-heavy rocket has successfully lifted-off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying an uncrewed Orion capsule on a multi-week mission around the Moon.
Update 11/16/2022: NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) super-heavy rocket has successfully lifted-off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying an uncrewed Orion capsule on a multi-weekmission around the Moon.
The mission, which is well over a decade in the making, is a landmark moment for NASA’s Artemis program, which seeks to return humanity to the Moon before striding on to Mars. In order to launch, the enormous central body of the rocket must be packed with around 730,000 gallons of super cooled liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.
This torrent of fuel powers the four RS-25 refurbished shuttle-era engines at the base of the launch vehicle, which, in concert with the twin solid fuel boosters mounted either side of the core stage, is capable of generating an astonishing 8.8 million pounds of thrust. This is significantly more than the Saturn V rocket that powered the Apollo-era missions to the Moon in the 60s/70s.
Early on in the fuelling operations for today’s attempt, the launch team detected a significant leak in the core stage liquid hydrogen replenish valve. Thankfully, a team of engineers were able to head out to the pad and hand-tighten the bolts around the crucial valve, successfully stemming the leak.
NASA’s tricky day wasn’t quite done, however, as the team dealing with range safety detected a problem with an ethernet switch which could have interfered with the ability to terminate the rocket in flight if it were to go rogue and careen off course. Once again engineers were able to resolve the problem, this time by replacing the faulty switch and in so doing cleared the way for the historic launch.
At 1:48 A.M. ET on November 16 the leviathan Moon rocket slipped the pad and roared into the Florida night sky, marking the start of the long awaited Artemis 1 mission. A little over two minutes after launch, their fuel spent, the SLS’s twin 177 ft solid fuel boosters were jettisoned into the Atlantic Ocean.
Eight minutes and three seconds after launch - with the rocket travelling at over 16,000 mph - the vast core stage of the SLS separated from the upper section. Soon after, Orion’s service module unfurled its four solar panels, guaranteeing its supply of electricity.
We are going.
For the first time, the @NASA_SLS rocket and @NASA_Orion fly together. #Artemis I begins a new chapter in human lunar exploration. pic.twitter.com/vmC64Qgft9
— NASA (@NASA) November 16, 2022
The upper stage of the Moon rocket then went on to execute a perigee raise manoeuvre, which placed the Orion capsule and its European-made service and propulsion module in a stable, circular orbit around Earth. A little under an hour and a half after launch, the SLS completed its final duty by undertaking an 18 minute trans-lunar injection burn, which put the Orion capsule on a rendezvous course with the Moon.
“You were part of a first, it doesn’t come along very often,” said launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson to the NASA team. “Once in a career maybe. But we are all part of something incredibly special, the first launch of Artemis, the first step in returning our country to the Moon, and on to Mars. What you have done today will inspire generations to come."
In the coming 26 days Orion will perform an orbital ballet that will take it an incredible 280,000 miles from Earth - further than any crew-worthy spacecraft has ever flown before. During this time NASA will perform a range of experiments and deploy a collection of ten mini satellites. Finally, Orion’s heat shield will be put to the test in a brutal atmospheric re-entry.
Original Story: Space nerds will be able to stream the inaugural launch of NASA’s gigantic moon rocket live in 8K and 360 degree VR when it launches on November 16. Hopefully.
Upon launch, the Space Launch System (SLS) will be the most powerful rocket ever to blast off from our planet’s surface. However, actually getting the darn thing off the ground is proving to be something of a nightmare for NASA.
The super-heavy lift rocket was first meant to launch in 2017, but a series of technical issues pushed the maiden voyage of the SLS all the way back to 2022. Even with this extra time the SLS is still struggling to get on a launch footing.
Already this year, a slew of technical problems including engine cooling and fuel-loading issues have contributed to a number of scrubbed launch attempts. These holdups, combined with the disruption caused by Hurricane Ian, led to NASA setting a new November 16 launch window for the rocket, which will open promptly at 1:04 a.m. EST.
For this latest attempt, the collaborative cloud streaming platform MeetMo.io is partnering with Felix & Paul Studios and FlightLine Films to provide super-high definition streams of the launch.
Viewers will be able to access 8K live streams from multiple cameras arrayed around the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Facebook starting at 11:57 p.m. ET on November 15.
The attempt will also be available in VR via Meta Quest, and as a 4K 360 degree stream. 360 degree fulldome projections will also be hosted in a number of domes and planetariums.
Whilst NASA is currently stating that the launch will go ahead, it is also tracking a potential issue with the rocket’s launch-abort system (LAS). The tower-like structure - which is located at the pinnacle of the 320-ft-tall rocket - is designed to pull the Orion command capsule away from danger in the event of a malfunction with the launch vehicle while on the pad, or in flight.
Insulation around the base of the LAS was damaged by the winds of Hurricane Ian, and engineers are currently assessing whether there is a danger that it could come loose during launch.
Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Anthony is a freelance contributor covering science and video gaming news for IGN. He has over eight years experience of covering breaking developments in multiple scientific fields and absolutely no time for your shenanigans. Follow him on Twitter @BeardConGamer
This story originally appeared on: IGN - Author:Anthony Wood