NASA is just weeks away from launching its first Artemis flight to the moon this month and you can learn all about the mission in free webcasts this week.
Artemis 1, NASA's uncrewed deep-space test flight of its Orion spacecraft and massive Space Launch System megarocket, is scheduled to launch around the moon on Aug. 29. To set the stage for the mission, NASA will hold a mission overview briefing on Wednesday (Aug. 3) along with a detailed mission briefing on Friday (Aug. 5), and you'll be able top watch both events for free online on NASA's website, NASA TV and the NASA app.
"Artemis 1 is an uncrewed flight test, the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to the moon," NASA officials wrote in an announcement. "Through Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence and serving as a steppingstone to send astronauts to Mars."
NASA's first Artemis 1 press conference this week is on Wednesday at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), when the agency will host a general overview of the mission. The briefing is expected to last an hour and will feature the following speakers:
- NASA Administrator Bill Nelson;
- Bhavya Lal, associate administrator for technology, policy, and strategy at NASA's headquarters;
- Mike Sarafin, Artemis 1 mission manager with NASA HQ;
- Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis 1 launch director at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida (the mission's launch site);
- John Honeycutt, Space Launch System program manager with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.;
- Howard Hu, Orion program manager, with NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston.
After Wednesday's briefing, NASA will host an Artemis 1 media day at its Johnson Space Center, home to the agency's astronaut corps. That media day will be on Friday (Aug. 5) and will include a detailed Artemis 1 mission briefing at 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 GMT). That briefing will feature the following speakers:
- Debbie Korth, Orion program deputy manager of JSC;
- Rick LaBrode, lead Artemis I flight director of JSC;
- Judd Frieling, Artemis I ascent/entry flight director of JSC;
- Melissa Jones, Artemis I recovery director of KSC;
- Reid Wiseman, chief astronaut of JSC;
- Philippe Deloo, Orion European Service Module program manager, with the European Space Agency.
"The first briefing will provide an overview of the Artemis 1 mission, and the second briefing will dive deeper into the Artemis 1 mission timeline and spacecraft operations," NASA officials said in the announcement.
Artemis 1 is a critical test flight that will launch an Orion spacecraft around the moon to test technologies NASA needs to support the return of astronauts to the lunar surface. It will launch a "Moonikin" mannequin, cubesats and other experiments inside Orion on a trip that will circle the moon and return to Earth.
If all goes well, NASA will follow the Artemis 1 mission with a crewed flight around the moon, called Artemis 2, in 2024. The Artemis 3 mission is the one that will land astronauts on the lunar surface, with SpaceX's Starship serving as the lunar lander for that flight. That flight is expected sometime after Artemis 2.