NEW YORK (CBS Newspath) – America’s return to the moon is just days away.
NASA’s new and powerful Space Launch System rocket is set to blast off from the Kennedy Space Center on August 29th. The flight is the maiden voyage of the Artemis mission, that aims to send humans to the moon for the first time in 50 years.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said earlier this month, the program is a nod to space history. “The Saturn V took us to the moon half a century ago. And now, as we embark on the first Artemis test flight, we recall this agency’s storied past.”
The launch is a test flight into deep orbit, without a crew. If the rocket can travel 280,000 miles and return the Orion spacecraft it’s carrying back to Earth safely, the goal is for a lunar landing with a human crew in 2025. “It’s a future where NASA will land the first woman and person of color on the moon. And on these increasingly complex missions, astronauts will live and work in deep space,” Nelson said.
Friday, NASA announced it plans to land astronauts on the moon’s South Pole, where some parts of the surface have not seen sunlight in billions of years. “It’s a new part of the moon. It’s a place we’ve never explored. It’s a long way from the Apollo site,” said Sarah Noble, from NASA’s Planetary Science Division.
The Artemis 1 mission will last 42 days and the Orion spacecraft will travel 1.3 million miles before landing off the coast of San Diego. NASA hopes to use what it learns to develop technology for humans to live and work on the moon, with the eventual goal of reaching Mars. It’s a far-off dream that all starts with Artemis 1’s launch on August 29th.