After months of delays and in a spectacular nighttime launch, NASA sent its new Space Launch System on its inaugural mission early Wednesday morning. The booster lifted off at 1:47 a.m. Eastern time on a 26-day mission. Although the rocket carried NASA’s new Orion crew capsule, the mission is being flown with instrumented mannequins.

Shortly after launch and as scheduled, the booster’s upper stage, called the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, separated and performed an 18-minute translunar injection burn to put the spacecraft on a lunar trajectory. The ICPS will coast behind the Orion spacecraft and is carrying 10 small cubesats that will be deployed on the trip to the moon. Some of these will collect lunar data and one will deploy a solar sail to fly by an asteroid. NASA said Orion successfully deployed the solar arrays which will power it.

The primary goal of Artemis I is to test the booster itself, a mashup of components from the retired Space Shuttle system, and operate the Orion in deep space, testing its heat shield and recovering the spacecraft in anticipation of a crewed mission on Artemis 2 no sooner than 2024. The successful launch ends years of delays. The SLS was originally intended to fly in 2016.


  1. The much-hyped SLS finally takes flight!
    And the official coverage was… disappointing.
    In 2022, there are many rocket companies that livestream onboard footage of launches (and in some cases landings).
    The pad cameras were nice enough.
    But no on-board footage until after solar array deployment?
    Maybe they’d need another billion and 2 years to develop that capability.

  2. Is it possible that the “mannequins” were the ones who decided that there was a need for this huge expenditure?

  3. Those commentators and launch controllers sure love the sound of their own voices. Makes me yearn for the days of Gemini and Apollo minimalism. If it needed saying – it was said. If it didn’t – then you watched and waited.

    They should have Gene Kranz come and talk to them. Saw him compress Gemini and Apollo (up to 13) into a 1 hour talk. He hit every salient point and missed nothing of significance. Tour De Force!

    As to the SLS – we need the heavy lift if we are going there. Falcon will not do it. Exploration – like R&D – costs money with no guarantee of return.

  4. Artemis cost $4 Billion per launch, the whole program, $93 Billion!!! Oh, and by the way, none of the Artemis hardware is reusable.

    This is stupid money and nobody is pushing back on the expenditures.

    What’s the goal? What’s the return on the dollar? What are we bringing back that’s of any value? NADA.

    NASA is spending close to a 1/10th of a trillion dollars – for what?

    Totally insane.

  5. At $4 Billion per launch, you could buy 40 SpaceX Falcon9 missions, assuming no discount for volume and using only “virgin” launchers.
    And Armetis still requires two SpaceX Starship launches for landing on the moon. Starship has more than enough lifting capability to do the whole mission, without the SLS/Armetis stack. Probably will be safer, those Thiokol roman candles do not exactly have either a great record or a really “green” exhaust. And the total cost of the Starship landers is just over $2.1 Billion.
    I’m going to guess that the first human to get to the moon this century may indeed ride the entire way on a Starship. Could be a “test” of the system, and Elon will make the first “tweet” from the surface of another “planet.”
    Yes, SLS provides lots of jobs to lots of people in lots of states, of the tech is not exactly modern, it’s all Space Shuttle hardware repurposed, so why invest on tech that’s older than most of the people who will be flying it?
    If part of the goal is to advance the state of the art, I’m wondering where the SLS is going to make a worthwhile contribution?