Back to the Moon

On Wednesday, November 16 at 1:47 am, the Artemis I rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida. The goal of this mission is to orbit the moon, but the eventual goal of the Artemis program is to land both the first woman on the moon as well as the first person of color on the moon.

The Artemis missions are named after the Greek goddess of hunting and the moon. It was also named this because of the Apollo missions in the 1960s. In Greek mythology, Apollo is the twin brother of Artemis. The Apollo missions were the original missions to the moon, beginning with orbiting the moon and ending with putting a man on the moon. Apollo was one of NASA’s first big space exploration efforts, sending multiple astronauts to the moon to gather data to bring back to Earth to test.

The goal of the Artemis program is to go to the moon for the first time in fifty years. With new advancements in technology since the last moon landing, scientists at NASA will be able to learn more about the moon, as well as explore economic benefits in the process. Another significant, groundbreaking goal of the Artemis program is to eventually establish a habitable, long-term presence on the moon; something that has never been done before. This is a necessary step toward sending the first astronauts to Mars, which is one of the ultimate long-term goals of the Artemis program. 

When Artemis I launched in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday, it was months later than the mission was originally scheduled for. The first attempt at launching was on August 23rd of this year, but the launch was scrubbed, which means that the attempt to launch was canceled, and a new attempt was scheduled. There are very specific times that a rocket can be launched, based on the position of the Earth in relation to the destination of the mission, in this case, the moon, as well as the position of satellites in relation to the trajectory of the rocket. The weather is also a major factor in determining if the rocket can launch or not. If there is inclement weather, or it is too windy, the launch will have to be scrubbed and rescheduled. There are many determining factors and many checks and balances that have to be completed before a rocket can be cleared for launch, which is why it took five attempts to finally send Artemis to the moon.

The Artemis missions will make history, just like the Apollo missions did, and the discoveries made on these missions will help to further our understanding of space, the moon, and eventually, so much more. The Artemis missions will land astronauts on the moon, just like Apollo did in the 1960s,  and even help eventually get astronauts to Mars. Artemis I is just one step that is needed to reach these goals, but it is the beginning of a new stage of space exploration that will inspire many and provide valuable information about the universe.

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