NASA Calls Off Unmanned Mission to the Moon — Here's Why

Everything to know about Artemis I.

NASA no longer has a set launch date for Artemis I after two planned launch days fell through due to engine technicalities.

The complexity of the engine's leaking hydrogen line hindered the rocket's ability to be launched and therefore, it will likely not launch until mid-October (although there is no formal date set), according to NASA.

NASA Artemis I rocket.

When will the launch take place?

As of now Sept. 27 is the earliest date for the launch, and there is already a backup scheduled for Oct. 2, according to a tweet from NASA.

How can people watch?

People all over the world can tune in to NASA’s YouTube page for the official launch. In the meantime, space fans can watch a preview of the flight online.

How long will the rocket circle the moon?

The entire mission will take 42 days, 3 hours, and 20 minutes. The Artemis I is then expected to splash down in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of San Diego.

Why is this so historic?

The Artemis I, which was initially supposed to launch in 2021 before it was beset by a series of technical issues, will mark the beginning of NASA’s journey back to the moon. The last time a human walked on the surface of the moon was 1972 with Apollo 17, the last of the Apollo missions, according to NASA.

During its orbit, the Orion will fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown, traveling 280,000 miles away from Earth and 40,000 miles beyond the far side of the moon (beating the previous record set during Apollo 13). The craft will get within about 60 miles of the lunar surface.

NASA said Orion will also stay in space longer than any human spacecraft has without docking to a space station.

“With Artemis I, NASA sets the stage for human exploration into deep space, where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems near the Moon needed for lunar surface missions and exploration to other destinations farther from Earth, including Mars,” NASA wrote on its launch website. “With Artemis, NASA will collaborate with industry and international partners to establish long-term exploration for the first time.”

Additionally, NASA will deploy ten small satellites as part of the mission to study the moon or head further out into deep space.

Why is the mission uncrewed?

NASA says this mission will “provide a foundation for human deep space exploration,” testing the capabilities of the rocket and spacecraft. While no crew will be on board, the Orion will host three “passengers” in the form of mannequins that will be fitted with sensors to record everything from vibration to radiation levels.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles