We could be about to witness the first step in returning human feet to the Moon this week, as NASA attempts once again to launch its Artemis I flight test.

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The Artemis I launch will be the first time a rated spacecraft has been sent to the Moon since Apollo 17, almost 50 years ago.

The mission is the first ever launch of both the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion crew module that will carry future crews to the Moon.

Get more on this story by visiting our dedicated Artemis I launch page.

When will Artemis I launch?

Artist's impression of NASA's Space Launch System leaving Earth orbit on its way to the Moon. Credit: NASA
Artist's impression of NASA's Space Launch System leaving Earth orbit on its way to the Moon. Credit: NASA

NASA has announced that the Space Launch System carrying the Orion module will launch on 16 November 2022, marking the lift-off of the Artemis I mission.

The 120-minute launch window for the Artemis I mission opens at 01:04 EST (05:04 UTC).

The NASA Artemis I team met in the afternoon of Monday 14 November to discuss the mission launch and review whether conditions were suitable.

They gave the go-ahead to proceed, with launch planned for Wednesday 16 November.

Photographers prepare to capture the shot of a lifetime - the launch of NASA's Artemis I mission - at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, 13 November 2022. Photo by GREGG NEWTON/AFP via Getty Images
Photographers prepare to capture the shot of a lifetime - the launch of NASA's Artemis I mission - at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, 13 November 2022. Photo by GREGG NEWTON/AFP via Getty Images

Fears surrounding Hurricane Nicole, which hit Florida on 10 November 2022, have been dismissed by NASA, who said "teams have conducted thorough assessments of the rocket, spacecraft, and associated ground systems and confirmed there were no significant impacts from the severe weather."

"The SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft arrived at Kennedy’s Launch Pad 39B on Nov. 4 and rode out the storm there."

The launch of the Artemis I flight to the Moon will be visible for a short while along the so-called Space Coast in the US state of Florida.

If the launch does indeed go ahead, a new era of crewed spaceflight will have begun.

As of Tuesday morning, 15 November, it seems like this week we could finally get to see the first launch of NASA's new programme to return humans to the Moon.

Where to watch the Artemis I launch online

You can watch all the briefings and the action running up to the event - and the launch of Artemis I itself - via NASA TV in the window below.

Are you planning on watching the launch online, or even in person? What do you think about NASA's Artemis programme?

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Let us know by emailing us at contactus@skyatnightmagazine.com.

Authors

Iain Todd, BBC Sky at Night Magazine
Iain ToddScience journalist

Iain Todd is BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Content Editor. He fell in love with the night sky when he caught his first glimpse of Orion, aged 10.

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