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Launches: Artemis 1 as early as August 29?

Launches: Large rocket launching through the atmosphere.
Artist’s concept of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. It’s powerful and fast, but carries a high price tag. Image via NASA.

July 20 update: Artemis 1 as early as August 29?

NASA officials said at a press conference earlier today that the Artemis 1 mission – our first step in a human return to the moon – could launch as early as Monday, August 29, 2022. The announcement comes on the 53rd anniversary of the first human footsteps on the moon, during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. Jim Free, associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington D.C. later said via Twitter that his team is gearing up for the historic flight:

While we have a fair bit of work to do on Artemis 1 ahead of launch, we’ve put placeholders on the range starting on August 29.

The other two possible launch dates mentioned today are:

Friday, September 2, 2022
Monday, September 5, 2022

Free said the team is “focused” as they continue to work through a slew of procedures and processes, in preparation for the first flight test of NASA’s newly developed heavy lift vehicle – the mighty Space Launch System, or SLS – and of the Orion crew capsule, in which the return crew to the moon will ultimately ride.

Artemis 1 will serve as a test flight for SLS. The SLS will send the (uncrewed) Orion crew capsule on a trip around the moon and back.

If the current preferred launch dates don’t work out, NASA mission planners have other possible windows planned for Artemis 1 stretching to the end of 2022.

Want more details on the challenges ahead of launch? Here’s a great article from Alan Boyle at Geekwire: NASA announces a challenging schedule for inaugural launch of its SLS moon rocket

Read more from EarthSky: SLS v Starship: It’s a mini space race!

Rocket under repair, each part is in a different floor of a huge building.
Teams retracted the first two of 20 platforms surrounding the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft that allow work on the integrated system in High Bay 3 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At this writing (July 20, 2022), SLS is in the VAB to prep for the launch of the Artemis 1 mission. Potential launch dates include August 29, and September 2 or 5, 2022. Image via NASA/ Kim Shiflett.

Follow Launches at EarthSky

On this 53rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, we are pleased to present Launches, a new feature at EarthSky. Dave Adalian and Lia De La Cruz aim to present near-daily updates on launches and spaceflight. Bookmark us! And come again.

Bottom line: On July 20, 2022 – anniversary of the first human footsteps on the moon – NASA said the Artemis 1 moon mission might launch as early as August 29.

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