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NASA to kickstart lunar program with launch of Artemis I

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WISH) — A new chapter of American space exploration will begin Monday with the launch of Artemis I.

NASA will send up the Space Launch System rocket, carrying the Orion spacecraft, for the first time as part of NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program.

The goal of the Artemis program is to return American astronauts to the lunar surface before the end of the decade, with a moon landing tentatively scheduled for 2025.

Artemis I will be an uncrewed test mission to ensure “safe crew module entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery” by putting Orion into a lunar orbit and then returning it to Earth, NASA says.

Monday’s launch will send the Orion spacecraft 40,000 miles beyond the moon. At that distance, Orion will break NASA’s record for the furthest from Earth any spacecraft designed for humans has ever traveled.

NASA astronaut Raja Chari says missions to the moon affect everyone back on Earth.

“Who would have thought with Apollo, that a byproduct of going to the moon was computers?” Chari said. “Especially for kids…like, ‘We don’t know where that stuff came from.’ It came from Apollo, I don’t know that 40 years from now people won’t be like, ‘Oh, yeah, we just use this thing every day. Oh, that came from Artemis technology.’”

Chari says the technology used in Artemis missions could help humans in a future where climate change has altered the conditions on Earth.

“We talk about climate change and really hot summers and droughts and water shortages,” Chari said. “The technology that we need to sustain ourselves on the moon has very direct applications to us existing on Earth as our climate changes.”

Artemis I is targeted to launch as soon as 8:33 a.m. Monday from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39B, the same location from which Apollo 10 was launched in May 1969.