NASA’s Artemis 1 mission will arrive near the moon Monday morning (Nov. 21), and you’ll be able to follow the epic action live.
Artemis 1’s uncrewed Orion capsule has been heading toward the moon since Wednesday morning (Nov. 16), when it launched atop NASA’s giant Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
Orion will finally reach the moon Monday morning, skimming just 80 miles above the lunar surface at 7:44 a.m. EST (1244 GMT), if all goes according to plan. During that close approach, the capsule will fire its main engine in a “powered flyby burn,” which will set it on course to enter lunar orbit four days later.
Artemis 1 team members will explain and discuss the crucial maneuver during a webcast starting Monday at 7:15 a.m. EST (1215 GMT). Watch it live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly through the space agency (opens in new tab).
Related: Stunning Views of NASA’s Artemis 1 Lunar Rocket Debut (Photos)
Live updates: NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission
Artemis 1 is the first mission of NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program, which aims, among other things, to establish a manned research base on the moon by the late 2020s. The launch of Artemis 1 also marked the debut of the SLS, the most powerful rocket ever successfully launched.
Monday’s burn will set up another critical maneuver on Nov. 25: an engine designed to launch Orion into distant retrograde orbit (DRO) around the moon. The capsule will remain in the DRO — a stable path that will take it as far as 40,000 miles (64,000 km) from the lunar surface — until Dec. 1, when another engine burn will send the capsule back to Earth.
Orion will come home on December 11, hitting Earth’s atmosphere at tremendous speeds before finally crashing gently into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.
If all goes well with Artemis 1, NASA will be free to prepare for Artemis 2, which will send astronauts around the moon in 2024 or so.
In 2025, the agency plans to launch Artemis 3, which will drop boots near the moon’s south pole, the location of its intended research base. Artemis 3 will be the first manned lunar landing since the last Apollo mission in 1972, and the first ever to put a woman and person of color on the moon.
Mike Wall is the author of “Outside (opens in new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).