I’m currently watching NASA TV waiting for the launch of Artemis 1, the first test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion crew capsule, albeit unmanned this time with “crash test dummies”, mannequins that will be used to measure forces and radiation, and the first mission to the Moon of its kind for 50 years, since Apollo 17 in 1972.
There was an unplanned hold at 40 minutes before launch due to an operating temperature problem in engine #3.
There are a couple of launch opportunities in early September if today’s launch is cancelled.
This is an important precursor test mission for Artemis 2, a crewed mission scheduled for 2024 that will orbit the Moon and return its astronauts to Earth, Apollo 8 style, before the first crewed landing mission, Artemis 3, in 2025, 53 years after Apollo 17 and 56 years after Apollo 11.
I must admit that life keeps me pre-occupied enough that I wasn’t thinking about this much again until recently. For someone who remembers being sent home from school, even as a 5 year old boy, to watch Apollo 11 on the family B&W TV along with the blurry pictures of Neil Armstrong on the ladder of the LEM, and as a lifelong fan of spaceflight, manned and robotic, the fact that Artemis (the twin of Apollo) is happening seems just a bit special.
NOTE: While writing this, the Artemis 1 launch was scrubbed for today. The next earliest possible launch date is September 2nd, pending the outcome of the analysis of test data from today’s engine problem. Here’s hoping!
EDIT: More than 2.5 months after I wrote this post (Aug 29 2022), Artemis 1 has finally launched!