Many of us had doubts this day would come this soon,
but this morning at 1:47 AM EST
Artemis lifted off from complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center and cruised
into orbit as though it was a routine mission. As it basically should
have, since the differences between this and other ABF hardware (Already Been
Flown) are so small. In fact, these four RS-25 engines on the SLS Core
are all ABF hardware. All flew on previous Space Shuttle missions. The least-used of these
four flew three prior missions; the most "experienced" flew 12 space shuttle
missions. (From a graphic here)
Space.com put up a video which is a bit long at just over 11 minutes, but it's better to watch in full screen mode. By a bit long I mean it starts about two minutes before ignition and the core stage is essentially invisible by the 5:10 mark, meaning there's about three minutes of eye candy in there.
From the backyard here it was quite a sight. As ignition and liftoff took place the northern horizon was so bright I had afterimages for several minutes; I even saw them when we came inside about eight minutes later. Not as bright as sunrise, but the brightest rocket I've seen in a long time. Correction, the brightest I've ever seen because that would have been in the Shuttle era and SLS produces more thrust than the shuttle. We had clear views of SLS from the time it cleared the horizon until well after the solids dropped and it was starting to go behind the houses across the street to the east. During the last Falcon 9 launch, by contrast, there were two clouds in the sky and the rocket stayed behind one after the other for all but about 10 seconds.
I'm going to take the day to both thank and appreciate the people who actually put the ball through the hoop on this one - and those whose work just got started for the mission that's just getting started. It was a long, difficult job for the people on the pad, the people working on the hardware, software, and everyone who touched the thing. At the conclusion of the launch control coverage last night, Artemis Launch Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson gave everyone thanks and encouragement for doing the long, hard jobs. It was well-said.
"This is your moment," she said. "We are all part of something incredibly special: The first launch of Artemis, the first step in returning our country to the moon and on to Mars. What you have done today will inspire generations to come."
I was a bit surprised to hear the commentators on NASASpaceflight.com saying much the same, that finally their generation has a rocket to be proud of; a way to the moon (more or less) that hasn't existed in 50 years.
Lots of good perspective at Space.com and Ars Technica.
I was doubtful, giving it a 50/50 chance, but they did it and NASA deserves full congratulations. I still have some reservations over the full, one-time and horribly expensive system in the long run, but for now everyone can feel very proud of what they did.ReplyDelete
I figured it would be either the next window (Saturday?) or the day after Thanksgiving. It was surprising that they had a hydrogen leak and it was fixed easily. A team of three guys drive out to the Mobile Launch Tower, climb up on it, go find the leak next to the fully fueled rocket, fix it, drive back and not delay the launch more than 45 minutes.Delete
Like you say, kudos to everyone who made it happen and they can feel very proud.
Just over a year ago (October of '21) NASA put a request for information (RFI) to the industry saying basically "cut the SLS costs by 50% and we'll fly it for 30 years." I never saw another word about that. At something like $4 billion/launch it will never fly often enough to be really useful. It's too expensive to do what they want it to do. Over-specified and under-capable.
I just watched the replay. Incredible job, after all the missteps, screw-ups, hardware issues, and stress on the crews, It Flew!ReplyDelete
Like you said, it looked like a "routine mission". Having been there and done that, my hat's off to all involved.
It was fun to watch, but it's just too costly. Dump it.ReplyDelete
If they put half the money into Starship development that they put in just one of these white elephants, it would be flying by now. It's 50% more capable than SLS.Delete
And at half the cost. And easier to build.Delete
But still has NOT flown successfully!Delete
Nice of NASA to take time off of promoting Islamic diversity and fighting climate change to, y'know, actually launch a ROCKET, like taxpayers nominally pay the mother-effers to do.ReplyDelete
Pity that for them it was just an interlude among the woketardedness and incompetence, rather than a return to their actual mission.
Defund them entirely, and give the money to homeless people for dope and booze, and we'd still come out ahead in the long run.
Government agencies do what their boss tells them to do, unless they are Deep State and woke. NASA is definitely NOT "Deep State."Delete
And Slow Joe is their boss.