The Artemis I mission lifted off in the early morning when the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion capsule took to the skies. In the wake of the launch, NASA has set up the Artemis Real-time Orbit Website or AROW for people to keep track of the spacecraft.
After years of delays and billions in cost overruns, the SLS roared skyward, rising from Kennedy Space Center on 8.8 million pounds of thrust and hitting 100 mph within seconds. The Orion capsule was perched on top and, less than two hours into the flight, busted out of Earth’s orbit toward the moon.
Wednesday’s launch marked the first time in 50 years that a space capsule has hurtled toward the moon. No one was on board this debut flight, just three test dummies. The capsule is headed for a wide orbit around the moon and then a return to Earth with a Pacific splashdown in about three weeks.
NASA’S new website allows people to view a real-time visualization of the telemetry of the Orion spacecraft, letting them view the spacecraft from multiple angles and from the locations of cameras actually on the spacecraft.
AROW also allows for a view of the entire Artemis mission from Earth, the moon or Orion’s current position. This view lets users see different milestones Orion will hit along its trip to the moon and back.
Along with the visuals, the website also tracks the spacecraft’s current speed, distance from the moon and Earth and how long since the mission began.
The liftoff marked the start of NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program, named after Apollo’s mythological twin sister. The space agency is aiming to send four astronauts around the moon on the next flight, in 2024, and land humans there as early as 2025.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.