Artemis back to shoot

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The massive SLS moon rocket is on the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, preparing to launch the Orion spacecraft and its European service module. The first launch opportunity is November 16 at 07:04 CET (06:04 GMT, 1:04 local time).

in depth

Artemis I step by step

Artemis I is the first mission in a large program to sustainably send astronauts around and on the Moon. This first unmanned launch will see the Orion spacecraft travel to the Moon, enter a long orbit around the satellite and then return to Earth, powered by a European-made module that provides electricity, propulsion, fuel, water and air as well as keeping the spacecraft operating at the right temperature.

Artemis to the moon

European service units are made with components supplied by more than 20 companies in ten member countries of the European Space Agency and the United States of America. Since the first European service module sits atop the SLS rocket on the launch pad, the second at just 8 km is combined with the crew capsule of the Orion for the first manned mission – Artemis II. The European Service’s third and fourth models – which will help astronauts land on the moon – are being produced in Bremen, Germany.

Mighty: take off

The Artemis program is an international effort to build a permanent outpost around and on the Moon. Lunar Gateway modules are being built in the USA and Europe, with the first European module – Habitat International – in production in Turin, Italy, and scheduled for launch on the fourth Artemis mission alongside the Orion spacecraft.

This week, the first Artemis was launched without humans, but three mannequins have been placed in the seats of the spacecraft for scientific research. Equipped with more than 5,600 sensors, two beams will measure the amount of radiation that astronauts could be exposed to on future missions with unprecedented accuracy. The European Space Agency is also including active radiation dosimeters in the crew module to get more data on how radiation levels change on a mission to the Moon – building on the leadership developed over decades of radiological research on the International Space Station.


With its launch on November 16, Artemis I’s three-week mission will end on December 11 with water flowing into the Pacific Ocean. The European Service Module detaches from the Orion Crew Module before scattering and burns up in the atmosphere without damage, completing its mission after taking Orion to the Moon and back safely.

Artemis I backup release dates include November 19. Check out ESA’s Orion blog for updates and more details. Watch the launch live on ESA Web TV.

Artemis I – European Service Unit Perspective

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