HOUSTON (KIAH) It was almost a slumber party because of the late-night hours, but those who attended Space Center Houston’s watch party for NASA’s third launch attempt for its Artemis I mission did not leave disappointed.
The doors opened at 10 p.m. Tuesday for space enthusiasts who wanted to watch a broadcast of the launch of the space agency’s newest rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
At 12:47 a.m. Central Time Wednesday, they got what they came for.
“We rise together back to the moon and beyond,” the NASA announcer said after counting down to liftoff.
It was a successful launch for NASA’s newest rocket, the Space Launch System — or SLS — which the agency says is the most powerful in the world.
Two previous launch attempts had to be postponed — scrubbed, in NASA terms.
A faulty instrument reading forced the space agency to scrub the first attempt in late August.
A hydrogen leak during fueling led to the second scrubbing a week later.
Wednesday’s successful launch means the Artemis program can start working towards meeting its goals.
“The idea now is that we’re going back to the moon — one — for even deeper exploration onto Mars — and two — we’re going to stay and to learn things that only the moon can teach us,” NASA Astronaut Christina Koch said. “So it’s a really exciting time, and Artemis I is the first mission that will launch in this series of missions.”
Artemis I is an unmanned mission, but Koch says astronauts will be aboard Artemis II.
She says Artemis III will actually land on the moon, something American astronauts haven’t done since 1972.
Not only does the Artemis program seek to return humans to the lunar surface, it also looks to put the first woman and person of color on the moon.
“We recognize that if we are not going truly with everyone aboard, without everyone having the opportunity to contribute — to work hard towards this goal — then it’s almost not worth going, and we’re not truly answering humanity’s call to explore,” Koch said.