Artemis I launch was a success

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As it was last scheduled, the historic Artemis I uncrewed mission took flight in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The 322-foot-tall (98-meter) Space Launch System, or SLS rocket lit its engines at 1:47 a.m. ET. Atop the rocket was the Orion spacecraft, a gumdrop-shaped capsule that broke away from the rocket after reaching space. Orion was left to soar through orbit with just one large engine. That engine then set off two powerful burns to put the spacecraft on the correct trajectory toward the moon. Two hours after liftoff, the rocket engine also fell away as planned. Orion will perform its lowest lunar pass, flying within about 60 miles (100 kilometers) of the lunar surface. A suite of passive and active sensors on board Orion will measure radiation and other flight conditions to allow researchers to better understand the conditions astronauts will experience during a crewed mission. After orbiting the moon, Orion will make its return trip, completing its journey in about 25.5 days.

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“Well for once I might be speechless,” said Artemis I launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, the first woman to hold such a role. Several astronauts were on-site for the launch. On Dec. 11, Orion will come home, barreling into Earth’s atmosphere at about 25,000 (40,000 kph). It will splash down under parachutes in the Pacific Ocean.