Artemis 1 flies away from the launch pad in epic Orion spacecraft video

Soar into space aboard a moon rocket in an epic new video.

Fresh footage from the launch abort system onboard Artemis 1, the first flight of NASA's Artemis program, shows the view from on high as the engines blast off for a moon mission on Nov. 16. Billowing smoke and a receding launch pad fill the dizzying video view, which gazes straight at the ground below during ascent. Moments later, the launch abort system pops off the rocket's top.

Artemis 1 carried 24 cameras on board the rocket and the Orion spacecraft, some of which are still transmitting live footage periodically nearly every day.

After Orion's auspicious journey through the darkness over NASA's Kennedy Space Center, the spacecraft is continuing its long lunar voyage. The next stage will be entering the moon's orbit today (Nov. 25); you can watch that live here at Space.com.

Orion is a human-rated spacecraft, but is flying uncrewed with a trio of mannequins and related data collection systems to ensure that the system is fully ready for humans on future missions. Radiation, vibration and other metrics will be assessed during the spacecraft's expected 25-day journey past the moon and back to Earth.

In photos: Amazing views of NASA's Artemis 1 moon rocket debut 

See more

The SLS had eight cameras on board to document liftoff, ascent and the external rocket environment during launch, according to NASA information (opens in new tab), with Orion carrying the other 16. These will all be used to assess how ready Orion and the rocket will be for future Artemis missions, which are planned to continue with the Artemis 2 crewed mission around the moon as soon as 2024.

The "rocket cam" view came courtesy of a camera mounted on the exterior of the Orion's crew module adapter, which connects the spacecraft to the rocket. Later in the video, you can see the launch abort system jettisoning as planned, courtesy of a second camera mounted inside the Orion cabin, which gazed outside the top hatch window.

Separate from all of these rocket and spacecraft cameras, Orion has three more cameras that are used as part of a technology demonstration for an in-space version of Amazon's Alexa. Dubbed Callisto, the three cameras for the automated virtual assistant will be used "to test video conferencing capabilities, and may enhance the public's ability to imagine themselves inside Orion," NASA officials wrote.

Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of "Why Am I Taller (opens in new tab)?" (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace