Artemis 1


Artemis 1
Illustration of Orion performing a trans-lunar injection burn (31977035782).jpg
An artist concept of the Orion
spacecraft in trans-lunar injection.
NamesArtemis I
Space Launch System-1 (SLS-1)
Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1)
Mission typeUncrewed Lunar orbital test flight
Mission duration26 days (planned)[1]
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftOrion CM-002
Spacecraft typeOrion MPCV
Lockheed Martin
Airbus Defence and Space
Start of mission
Launch date22 November 2021[2]
RocketSpace Launch System, Block 1
Launch siteKennedy Space Center, LC-39B[3]
End of mission
Landing sitePacific Ocean
Orbital parameters
Reference systemSelenocentric
Period6 days
Moon orbiter
Exploration Mission-1 patch.png
Artemis 1 mission patch  

Artemis 1 (officially Artemis I)[4] is a planned uncrewed test flight for NASA's Artemis program that is the first integrated flight of the agency's Orion MPCV and Space Launch System super heavy-lift rocket.[5] It is expected to launch on 22 November 2021.[2]

Formerly known as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the mission was renamed after the introduction of the Artemis program. The launch will be held at Launch Complex 39B (LC-39B) at the Kennedy Space Center, where an Orion spacecraft will be sent on a mission of 25.5 days, 6 of those days in a retrograde orbit around the Moon.[6] The mission will certify the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System launch vehicle for crewed flights beginning with the second flight test of the Orion and Space Launch System, Artemis 2, which will carry a crew of four around the Moon in 2023 for a week-long mission and back prior to the assembly of the Gateway.[1] The Lunar Gateway can further be extended for several lunar missions at a time.


Artemis 1 will use the Block 1 variant of the Space Launch System. The Block 1 will use five-segment solid rocket boosters producing 8.8×10^6 lbf (39,000 kN) of thrust at liftoff. The core stage will use four RS-25D engines of the Space Shuttle. The upper stage ICPS will be based on the Delta Cryogenic Second Stage (itself based on the design of the upper stage of JAXA's H-II and H-IIA rockets), containing one RL10 engine.

Once in orbit, the ICPS will perform a trans-lunar injection burn, which will transfer the Orion spacecraft and 13 CubeSats on the way to the Moon. If the maneuver is successful, the Orion will separate from the ICPS and coast to the Moon. The ICPS will deploy 13 CubeSats that will do scientific research and perform technology demonstrations.

Originally, the mission was planned to follow a circumlunar trajectory without entering orbit around the Moon.[3][7] Current plans are expected to have the Orion spacecraft spend approximately 3 weeks in space, including 6 days in a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon.[6]

Mission timeline

Mission elapsed time Event Altitude
0 hours 00 minutes 00 seconds Launch 0 km / 0 miles

Location: Kennedy Space Center

0 hours 02 minutes 00 seconds Solid Rocket Booster Separation 45 km / 28 miles
0 hours 03 minutes 40 seconds Service Module Panels and Launch Abort System Jettisoned 91 km / 57 miles
0 hours 08 minutes 14 seconds Main Engine Cutoff and Core Stage Separation 157 km / 98 miles
0 hours 16 minutes 14 seconds Solar Panels Deployed 484 km / 301 miles
0 hours 54 minutes 05 seconds Perigee Raise Manoeuvre 1,791 km / 1,113 miles
1 hour 25 minutes 00 seconds Trans-Lunar Injection (TLI) 601 km / 373 miles
1 hour 53 minutes 00 seconds Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) Separation 3,849 km / 2,392 miles
Days 1-4 Outbound Coasting Phase 3,849 - 394,501 km / 2,391 - 245,131 miles
4 days 7 hours 18 minutes Lunar Gravity Assist Distance from Earth: 401,643 km / 249,569 miles

Distance from Moon: 100 km / 62 miles

Days 7-13 Distant Retrograde Orbit 348,931 - 437,321 km / 216,815 - 271,739 miles
20 days Return Powered Flyby 358,558 km / 222,798 miles
Days 21-25 Inbound Coasting Phase 364,804 - 67,257 km / 226,678 - 41,959 miles
25 days 11 hours 30 minutes Crew and Service Module Separation 5,140 km / 3,194 miles
25 days 11 hours 34 minutes Re-entry 100 km / 62 miles
Re-entry 80 km / 50 miles
≈25 days 12 hours Parachute Deployment Sequence 7,315 m / 24,000 ft
≈25 days 12 hours Splashdown 0 km / 0 miles

Location: Pacific Ocean


View of the Artemis 1 mission as it was planned in May 2019.

The flight now named Artemis 1, was originally named by NASA Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) in 2012, when it was set to launch in 2017 as the first planned flight of the Space Launch System and the second uncrewed test flight of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle where Orion was to perform a circumlunar trajectory during a seven-day mission.[3][7] Before then, this initial flight had been referred to as Space Launch System 1 or SLS-1.

On 16 January 2013, NASA announced that the European Space Agency will build the European Service Module based on its Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), so the flight could also be regarded as a test of ESA hardware as well as American, and of how the ESA components interact with the American Orion components.[8]

The Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) flight article was consciously constructed[when?] in a way that if all the missing components (seats, life support systems) were added, it would not meet the mass target.[citation needed]

In January 2015, NASA and Lockheed Martin announced that the primary structure in the Orion spacecraft would be up to 25% lighter compared to the previous one. This would be achieved by reducing the number of cone panels from six (EFT-1) to three (EM-1), reducing the total number of welds from 19 to 7,[9] saving the additional mass of the weld material. Other savings would be due to revising its various components and wiring. For Artemis 1, the Orion spacecraft will be outfitted with a complete life support system and crew seats, but will be left uncrewed.[10] On the seats, two mannequins will be strapped and used as radiation imaging phantoms.[11]

In July 2014, the planned initial launch date had slipped to November 2018, and in April 2017, NASA further delayed the planned date to "sometime in 2019".[12][13] As of June 2021, Artemis 1 is planned for launch on 22 November 2021,[2] though it could be delayed to 2022.[14]

On 30 November 2020, it was reported that NASA and Lockheed Martin had found a failure with a component in one of the Orion spacecraft's power data units. Engineers working on Orion stated it could take months to replace the component, casting doubt on whether NASA can launch the Artemis 1 mission in November 2021. However, NASA later clarified that it does not expect the issue to affect the Artemis 1 launch date.[15][16]

Then-planned launch date history
Year Planned launch date
July 2011 December 2017
July 2014 November 2018
April 2016 September 2018
April 2017 2019
March 2018 December 2019
May 2018 June 2020
September 2019 November 2020
February 2020 April 2021
May 2020 November 2021 - March 2022[17]
June 2021 22 November 2021[2]

Crewed Exploration Mission-1 study

Welding sequence of Orion spacecraft for Artemis 1

This flight will be uncrewed. However, NASA did a study in 2017, at the request of President Trump, to investigate a crewed version of the initial SLS flight.[18] A crewed version of Exploration Mission-1 would have been composed of a crew of two astronauts, and the flight time would be much shorter than the uncrewed version due to safety reasons. The study investigated a crewed mission even with the possibility of further delays to the launch.[19] On 12 May 2017, NASA revealed that it will not be sending astronauts to space for Orion's EM-1 mission following a months-long feasibility study.[13] The study helped NASA make some decisions related to the flight test such as adding a full Orion hatch onto the spacecraft[why?] rather than a makeshift metal covering.[citation needed]

Alternative launcher study

On 13 March 2019, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine testified in front of a Senate hearing that NASA was considering moving the Orion spacecraft that was to fly on the first Space Launch System mission to commercial rockets to keep that mission on schedule for mid-2020. Bridenstine stated that the "SLS is struggling to meet its schedule", and that "We're now understanding better how difficult this project is and that it is going to take some additional time". Bridenstine testified that NASA was considering launching the Orion spacecraft being built for Exploration Mission-1 on commercial vehicles such as Falcon Heavy or Delta IV Heavy.[20][21] The mission would require two launches: one to place the Orion spacecraft into orbit around the Earth, and a second carrying an upper stage. The two would then dock while in Earth orbit and the upper stage would ignite to send Orion to the Moon. One challenge with this option would be carrying out that docking, as NASA does not have an ability to dock the Orion crew capsule with anything in orbit until Artemis 3.[22] Since mid-2019, the idea was put on hold, due to another study's conclusion that it would delay the mission further.[23] The plan was eventually scrapped when it was determined that it would be difficult to have Orion rendezvous with its interim cryogenic propulsion stage in low Earth orbit.

Launch campaign

Engineers with Exploration Ground Systems and Jacobs prepare to lift and place the core stage of the Space Launch System rocket for the Artemis I mission on the mobile launcher and in-between the already assembled twin rocket boosters.

Launch preparations for Artemis 1 at KSC officially began on June 12, 2020, with the arrival of the solid rocket booster segments from Utah by rail.[24] Later in the summer the launch vehicle stage adapter arrived at the launch site on the Pegasus barge and was brought into the VAB for storage prior to stacking.[25] NASA and ground systems contractor Jacobs began the build up of the Artemis 1 stack in High bay 3 of the VAB, with the stacking of the two aft solid rocket booster segments on November 23.[26] Following a pause in stacking due to core stage testing delays at Stennis space center, stacking operations resumed on January 7, 2021.[27] On March 3 the two solid rocket boosters completed stacking on the SLS mobile launcher.

The Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft began fueling and pre-launch servicing in the MPPF on January 16 following a handover to exploration ground systems.[28][29]

The SLS core stage for the mission (CS-1) arrived at the launch site on the Pegasus barge on April 27, following a successful green run hotfire test. It was moved to the VAB low bay for refurbishment and stacking preparations on April 29.[30] The stage was then stacked with its boosters on June 12, 2021. The stage adapter (LVSA) was stacked on the Core Stage on 22 June 2021. The ICPS (Stage 2) was stacked on July 6. The stacking of the Orion spacecraft on top of the upper stage is scheduled for late August.[31]

SLS Artemis I stacking[32][33][34]
Number Event Status
1 Booster Stacking  Completed
2 Core Stage Stacking
3 Stage Adapter (LVSA) stacking
4 ICPS (Stage 2) stacking
5 Spacecraft Adapter stacking
6 Test Tank Stacking Not done
7 Test Tank Removal
8 Orion and Launch Abort System stacked

Orion payloads

AstroRad vest on ISS

NASA has partnered with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) in conjunction with StemRad and Lockheed Martin to perform the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE), which will measure tissue radiation dose deposition aboard Artemis 1 and test the effectiveness of the AstroRad radiation vest in the radiation environment beyond low Earth orbit. While radiation shielding strategies of the past have relied on storm shelters in which astronauts can seek refuge when solar storms erupt, the AstroRad's ergonomic design provides a mobile protection system with a similar shielding factor as storm shelters without hindering the astronauts' ability to perform their tasks.[35]

The crew compartment of the uncrewed Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft will include two female mannequin imaging phantoms which will be exposed to the radiation environment along the lunar orbit, including solar storms and galactic cosmic rays. One phantom will be shielded with the AstroRad vest and the other will be left unprotected. The phantoms provide the opportunity to precisely measure radiation exposure not only at the surface of the body but also at the exact location of sensitive organs and tissues inside the human body. Radiation exposure will be measured with the implementation of both passive and active dosimeters intentionally distributed throughout the inside of the anthropomorphic phantoms at precise locations of sensitive tissues and high stem cell concentrations.[36][37] The results of MARE should enable Orion as a platform for other scientific experiments, provide accurate radiation risk projections of deep space exploration, and validate the protective properties of the AstroRad vest.[38] Also aboard the capsule will be a digital copy of the 14,000 entries for the Moon Pod Essay Contest hosted by Future Engineers for NASA[39]

Secondary payloads

MPCV Stage Adapter for 13 CubeSat spring-loaded dispensers

Thirteen low-cost CubeSat missions were competitively selected as secondary payloads on Exploration Mission-1, later Artemis 1.[40] All of them have the six-unit configuration,[41] and will reside within the second stage on the launch vehicle from which they will be deployed. Two CubeSats have been selected through NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, three through the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, two through the Science Mission Directorate, and three were chosen from submissions by NASA's international partners. The CubeSat spacecraft selected are:[42][43]

The remaining three slots were selected through a competition pitting CubeSat teams from the United States against each other in a series of ground tournaments called 'NASA's Cube Quest Challenge',[52][53] and were announced by NASA Ames on 8 June 2017. The competition was to contribute to opening deep-space exploration to non-government spacecraft. These slots were awarded to:[54]

See also


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External links

  • Artemis 1 website at
  • Space Launch System website at
  • Simulation of Artemis 1 Launch and CubeSat Deployment on YouTube
  • The whole mission simulation on YouTube