CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.–On the 53rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, NASA announced Wednesday it’s shooting for a late August launch of its giant, new moon rocket.
NASA will attempt the more than month-long lunar test flight with three mannequins, but no astronauts, as early as Aug. 29. Two launch dates are available in September before NASA must stop for two weeks.
NASA’s Jim Free said that the test flight marks the beginning of “our Artemis programme to return to the moon”. The new space agency’s lunar program, called Artemis, is named after Apollo’s twin sister.
The 30-story Space Launch System rocket and attached Orion capsule are currently in the hangar at Kennedy Space Center, following repairs stemming from last month’s countdown test. During NASA’s numerous launch rehearsals on the pad, fuel leaks and other technical problems were discovered.
NASA assured reporters Wednesday that all problems were resolved and testing is nearly complete. However, they warned that launch dates may slip depending on weather conditions in Florida and other issues before Aug. rocket returns to pad. 18.
” We’re going to have to be cautious,” stated Free, the head of exploration system development.
At 322 feet, the rocket and Orion capsule are taller than the Statue of Liberty.
If Orion’s journey to the Moon and Back goes smoothly, then astronauts can climb aboard in 2023 and do a loop around before landing in 2025..
The last time the Astronauts visited the moon was in The first of the 12 moonwalkers, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, stepped onto the dusty gray surface on July 20, 1969, while Michael Collins orbited the moon.
The 92-year-old Aldrin, the sole survivor of the three, noted the anniversary in a tweet: “Neil, Michael & I were proud to represent America as we took those giant leaps for mankind. This moment united America and the entire world .”
By Marcia Dunn