President Biden, VP Harris hail NASA Artemis 1 moon rocket launch and its 'limitless possibilities'

vice-president kamala harris beside an orion spacecraft and surrounded by a few people, including two astronauts
Vice President Kamala Harris meets with NASA astronauts Shannon Walker and Joe Acaba while viewing the Artemis 3 Orion capsule under construction at the Kennedy Space Center on Aug. 29, 2022. (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The White House cheered the successful launch of NASA's first Artemis moon mission on Wednesday (Nov. 16).

Artemis 1 kicked off the lunar exploration program with a dramatic uncrewed night launch at 1:47 a.m. EST (0647 GMT), during which the Space Launch System megarocket successfully boosting the Orion spacecraft on a journey to the moon. President Joe Biden had watched the launch and called NASA directly to congratulate the agency, according to a tweet from Administrator Bill Nelson.

Biden also commented on Twitter later in the day. "This ship will enable the first woman and first person of color to set foot on the lunar surface and will lead countless students to become explorers and show America's limitless possibilities to the world," he wrote.

Related: Artemis 1 launch photos: Amazing views of NASA's moon rocket debut (gallery)

Vice President Kamala Harris, who is also the chair of the National Space Council, also tweeted acclaim to NASA and all involved in the Artemis 1 mission, now flying toward the moon.

"Congratulations to @NASA and our private sector and international partners on the launch of Artemis 1," wrote Harris. "Today, America is charting a path back to the moon. This is a landmark moment for our nation and our world."

Harris visited NASA's Kennedy Space Center in August to witness another launch attempt, which was called off due to technical issues.

Should Artemis 1 meet all of its flight objectives, next in line is Artemis 2, targeting a 2024 launch with a crew that would bring Orion around the moon. The first lunar landing since 1972 is tasked for Artemis 3, which may touch down in 2025 or 2026.

Harris last chaired a meeting of the National Space Council in September, when she called for more diversity in the U.S. space workforce. The White House also pledged funding for a pilot program to increase training in space with big companies, led by Blue Origin, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman and including other brands like SpaceX, Amazon and Rocket Lab.

Other recent White House initiatives in space include funding "Learning Lunchboxes" for communities needing extra student support, promising more orbital cleanup and junk prevention to address the growing amount of space debris, and reiterating a promise not to conduct anti-satellite testing in orbit (in the months after a November 2021 Russian test that created a swarm of pieces that has come near the International Space Station and SpaceX Starlink satellites).

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

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, 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 a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: