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NASA’s Artemis I Space Launch System Rocket Reaches Mission Goals

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NASA reported on Wednesday that the initial launch of its Space Launch System rocket met expectations in transporting the uncrewed Orion spacecraft around the moon.

SLS is integral to the Artemis I mission, which sets the stage for the agency’s plan to revive manned lunar landing expeditions.

Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin said that the rocket’s systems “performed as designed and as expected in every case.” Its twin solid booster motors enabled SLS to travel more than 27 miles upon take-off. It achieved its speed targets, reaching approximately 4,000 mph in over two minutes before booster separation.

Built by Lockheed Martin, the Orion capsule exceeded its required travel distance after SLS transported it to within three miles of its targeted orbit altitude. The moon rocket’s core stage, developed by Boeing, met all of its goals, as did the four RS-25 engines supplied by Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Artemis I launched on Nov. 16 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and is set to conclude on Dec. 11. Engineers will continue to analyze the travels of SLS in the next several months and apply relevant findings to future Artemis expeditions.