Preparing for Artemis I Launch

  • Courtesy of NASA

NASA’s Artemis program is sending the first woman and next man to the Moon to explore the lunar surface like never before. This bold endeavor will begin with the Artemis I launch - an uncrewed flight test.

Artemis I is the first integrated test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft. SLS and Orion will blast off from Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to send Orion into a lunar distant retrograde orbit – a wide orbit around the Moon that is farther from Earth than any human-rated spacecraft has ever traveled. The uncrewed mission will validate the design and safety of SLS and Orion for human exploration missions to follow.

SLS is the nation’s next-generation heavy-lift rocket that will carry humans farther and faster into deep space than ever before. Aerojet Rocketdyne provides the four powerful RS-25 main engines used to help propel SLS with over 2 million pounds of thrust, as well as the RL10 engine that propels the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), or the second stage, of the SLS. This engine provides the power to accelerate the Orion spacecraft to speeds over 24,000 miles per hour and set it on a course for the Moon.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s role on Orion includes the 6,000 lbf main engine on the spacecraft’s service module, eight auxiliary engines used to maintain Orion’s in-space trajectory and position, the jettison motor that separates the Launch Abort System from the spacecraft, an oxygen and nitrogen (nitrox) tank for the life support system, 12 Reaction Control System thrusters that control the spacecraft’s reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, and five composite overwrapped pressure vessels that store high-pressure helium to inflate Orion’s flotation system upon water landing.


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RS-25 Refurbishment Infographic

Artemis I Mission Overview. Credit: NASA

RS-25 Awesomeness

SLS: America's Exploration Rocket