This week the world will watch live as NASA’s mega Moon rocket launches an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a six-week mission around the Moon and back to Earth. A series of moon mission’s that Canada became the first country to back the USA officially.
NASA is targeting Wednesday, Nov. 16, for the launch of the Artemis I Moon mission during a two-hour launch window that opens at 1:04 a.m. EST (0604 UTC). During Artemis I, Orion will lift off aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and travel 280,000 miles (450,000 km) from Earth and 40,000 miles (64,000 km) beyond the far side of the Moon, carrying science and technology payloads to expand our understanding of lunar science, technology developments, and deep space radiation.
Through Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence and serving as a steppingstone to send Canadian astronauts to Mars.
A successful Artemis I mission will bring us a step closer to seeing a Canadian Space Agency astronaut flying around the Moon as part of Artemis II, the first crewed mission to the Moon since 1972. This mission, currently planned to launch in 2024/2025, would make Canada the second country to have an astronaut fly around the Moon.
Canada has benefitted from strong momentum into the worldwide space robotics and telecommunications industry. As a G7 leader Canada was invited by NASA to join the Artemis program which will put Canadian astronaut boots on the moon with the United States.
The Artemis 1, an uncrewed test flight of the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, was originally scheduled to blast off on August 29. Due to sub optimal external conditions the launch was delayed until this week. The first outing is a test with no crew aboard, but future missions will send astronauts back to the lunar surface for the first time in over 50 years. Unbeknownst to much of the country our contributions to this mission are significant and ongoing.
Canada has reached some big space milestones of late since Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government announced a 2+ billion dollar investment in space exploration and other space related activity. The nation joined the United States on its aggressive endeavours to put humans back on the moon and eventually boots on Mars. Canada became the first country to commit to the NASA led Artemis program and will contribute a robotic arm to help astronauts succeed. NASA announced two unnamed Canadian astronauts will be part of the upcoming moon missions, a benefit for countries who invest internationally in advancing human space exploration.
During this flight the Orion spacecraft will launch from Florida on the SLS. The ship will venture thousands of kilometres beyond the Moon. Orion’s systems will then be monitored to ensure a safe Crew Module re-entry, splashdown, and recovery. Orion will stay in space longer than any spacecraft built for astronauts ever has without docking to a space station.
Artemis missions are an important part of NASA’s Artemis program, designed to send humans farther into space than ever before. Like the Apollo program over 50 years ago, Artemis will begin with missions around the Moon. Subsequent missions will land astronauts on the lunar surface.
Canada has had an extensive recent government track record for investing “The New Space Economy”. Space travel and space mining are a burgeoning industry. The nation leads space robotics and earth observation where deep investments have been made by our country. Canada is also a leading nation in Astronomy. Space geeks have been following the progress of the James Webb Telescope which Canada has helped build.
The launch can be viewed in real-time at www.nasa.gov/artemis