NASA’s new lunar rocket will launch on August 29

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA’s Artemis lunar return program could begin its first uncrewed test flight as early as August 29.

NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Free told reporters that the first possible launch dates for the giant Space Launch System (SLS) launch vehicle and the Orion crew capsule are August 29, September 2 and September 5.

The latest test, conducted in June, was 90 percent up to the target, and on Wednesday Cliff Lanham, the ship’s senior operations manager, said engineers had replaced defective seals that caused the SLS to leak hydrogen.

Artemis-1 should make a trip around the far side of the moon for four to six weeks – longer than any ship without docking – and then return home faster than any previous ships.

It will also deploy a number of small satellites called CubeSats to conduct experiments in space.

Artemis Mission Director Mike Sarafin stated, “Our first and foremost goal is to demonstrate the Orion heat shield under lunar reentry conditions.”

When the capsule returns from the Moon, it will travel at about 39,400 kilometers per hour and experience temperatures half that of the Sun outside the heat shield.

The second goal is to demonstrate the flightability of the rocket and capsule for the crew by performing all the maneuvers during the mission.

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