In Case You Missed Out, NASA Made History With Artemis I's Successful Launch to the Moon

We’re one step closer to the Moon... and soon, to Mars.

It’s been more than 50 years since the last Apollo mission sent a Moon to the moon. Now, NASA is getting ready to return humans to the Moon with the successful first launch of the Artemis I program.

At 1:47 a.m. Eastern Time, NASA’s Space Launch System rocket launched the Orion spacecraft into space as part of Artemis I’s flight test. Orion is currently unmanned and will travel approximately 40,000 miles beyond the Moon before returning to Earth within 25.5 days.

“It’s taken a lot to get here, but Orion is now on its way to the Moon,” said Jim Free, NASA deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. “This successful launch means NASA and our partners are on a path to explore farther in space than ever before for the benefit of humanity.”

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The spacecraft, which was launched from the NASA Kennedy Space Center, is embarking on a crucial mission to determine the feasibility of NASA’s goal to send humans to the Moon—and ultimately, to Mars. The launch was not only the first launch of Artemis I's moon exploration program, but it was also the first launch of the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft. 

“The Space Launch System rocket delivered the power and performance to send Orion on its way to the Moon,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager. “With the accomplishment of the first major milestone of the mission, Orion will now embark on the next phase to test its systems and prepare for future missions with astronauts.”  


NASA’s been hard at work developing its deep space exploration systems, like the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket, and Orion’s mission to the Moon will be another piece of the puzzle.

“What an incredible sight to see NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft launch together for the first time. 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,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.  

The NASA Space Launch System rocket, which is the most powerful of its kind in the world, is scheduled to send another spacecraft to the Moon in 2024, which will carry humans for the first time in 50 years. While the goal of Artemis is to return humans to the Moon, the endgame for NASA is total space exploration.

After the Moon, NASA will set its sights on Mars. 

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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