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At Last, 'What an Incredible Sight to See'

Artemis rocket holding unmanned Orion spacecraft is finally headed toward moon after series of delays
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2022 6:07 AM CST
Finally, Liftoff for Artemis I
NASA's new moon rocket lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/John Raoux)

With a series of nixed attempts left in its wake, Artemis I is finally on its way to the moon. NASA reports that its powerful Space Launch System (SLS), holding the unmanned Orion spacecraft, blasted off for its flying debut from Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 1:47am Wednesday and is now on its 25-day-plus mission that will take it beyond the moon and back. Per Florida Today, there were some issues on the launch pad before takeoff, including a networking problem and a hydrogen leak, that at first seemed like they might derail yet another try. But troubleshooting teams were able to remedy those issues, and the rocket set off on its journey (video here).

"What an incredible sight to see," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson says, per the release. "This uncrewed flight test will push Orion to the limits in the rigors of deep space, helping us prepare for human exploration on the moon and, ultimately, Mars." The New York Times notes that Orion will swoop within 60 miles of the moon's surface on Monday, then spend a couple of weeks circling the lunar body before heading back home for splashdown off the coast of California on Dec. 11. A manned Artemis mission that will take four astronauts around the moon is being planned for what's likely to be a 2024 launch. (More NASA stories.)

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