If you're getting some déjà vu thinking NASA already sent a rocket to the Moon, it's not just you. The much-anticipated Artemis 1 launch was first set to happen this summer, but after a few necessary date changes, the rocket’s launch has a new date. And the launch is imminent — in the very late hours of tonight, or the early hours of tomorrow morning, depending on your time zone.
If watching the launch is worth being a little tired for work or school tomorrow, here's everything you need to know about Artemis 1, its much anticipated launch, and when and how to view it.
What is the mission of Artemis 1?
Artemis 1 is the first part of a multi-step NASA mission to learn more about the Moon, aimed at putting people on the surface of the planet again. But, perhaps most interestingly, there won't be any people onboard this spacecraft. Instead, it will be filled with dummies to test the Orion space capsule and the Space Launch System Rocket.
This step aims to test the technology of the rocket, perfect it, and ensure it's working and safe before sending actual human beings on the next mission, Artemis II. Following that installment of the mission will be Artemis III, which will have the astronauts back on the surface of the Moon again sometime between 2024 and 2025.
Why was the Artemis 1 launch rescheduled a few times?
The first launch of Artemis 1 was scheduled to happen on August 29 but was canceled just before takeoff because of equipment issues. The teams were "not able to chill down the four RS-25 engines to approximately minus 420 degrees F, with engine 3 showing higher temperatures than the other engines," NASA explained in a brief following the failed take-off.
The next launch was scheduled for Sept. 3; however, it was also halted because attempts were made "to fix an issue related to a leak in the hardware transferring fuel into the rocket, but were unsuccessful."
When is the Artemis 1 launch happening?
According to NASA, the launch of Artemis 1 is set to happen on November 16 at 1:04 a.m. EST if all systems continue to look good.
"The unanimous recommendation for the team was that we were in a good position to go ahead and proceed with the launch countdown," Jeremy Parsons, deputy manager of NASA's Exploration Ground Systems program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, said during a media teleconference.
The countdown to launch is already in play — it started on Monday, November 14 at 1:54 a.m. and is "progressing smoothly,” according to NASA updates.
"Weather conditions remain 90% favorable for the Artemis 1 launch based on the Monday, Nov. 14 forecast from meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force Space Launch Delta 45," an update reads.
"The mission management team will reconvene this afternoon to review additional analysis from overnight operations in preparation for launch. NASA is targeting a teleconference at 6 p.m. to discuss the outcome of the meeting."
How can I watch the Artemis launch?
Like the initial planned launch, the event is scheduled to be live-streamed by NASA on its website and YouTube channel. You can watch in real-time, or if you can’t stay up late, you can re-watch the launch on the agency's social accounts.
NASA suggests following along with their blog to keep up to date on potential changes to the launch, as anything can happen.