The countdown has begun for Artemis 1, the unmanned mission symbol of the return to the Moon. The counter was triggered in the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, where the launch is scheduled at 2.33 pm Italian on 29 August. Opening the way to the Moon again, in this first unmanned mission, will be the largest rocket ever built. Space Launch System (Sls) 111 meters high and 8.4 diameter, on which the Orion capsule is integrated. Meanwhile, we look with some concern at the weather conditions, which for Monday indicate thunderstorms.
The anticipation for this launch is growing all over the world: it is the first stage of the program which, after this mission, includes a second one (Artemis 2) in the lunar orbit and a third one (Artemis 3), in which astronauts will return after half century to walk on the moon.
Monday is a launch that has enormous symbolic value for the United States and is a unique opportunity for Europe, which plays a very important role in the Artemis program. “It is a historic moment for Europe”, wrote on Twitter the director general of the European Space Agency (ESA), Josef Aschbacher. “In this decade – he added – the first woman and the next man will walk on the surface of the Luna and the European Space Agency are building the hardware that will provide the propulsion to transport and support them ”. In fact, ESA participates in all the stages of the Artemis program, from the construction of the European Service Module (ESM) of the Orion capsule, some elements of which were made in Italy by Thales Alenia Space (Thales-Leonardo), to the future space station. in the lunar orbit Gateway, up to the green light in the presence of three European astronauts destined to travel in the lunar orbit and, perhaps, to walk on the Moon.
Certainly among the astronauts destined to descend on the lunar soil there will be a woman, as NASA has said several times, but the name has not yet been identified. Another great news of the Artemis program is that the return of man to the Moon will not be an episode: the foundations will be laid to build a stable outpost, a base that in the future can make the Moon an outpost for future journeys to Mars.
There is also a lot of Italian technology on the Artemis 1 mission, thanks to the collaboration between the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and industry. In addition to participation in the Orion service module, the small Argomoon satellite, built for ASI by the Argotec company of Turin, represents Italy in the mission. It will be the only European satellite active in the lunar orbit, from which it will pick up the technologies that will fly in the Artemis 1 mission.