New explorers are going to the Moon to make discoveries that will pave the way for future missions to Mars and beyond. NASA’s Artemis missions, named for Apollo’s twin sister, will demonstrate America’s commitment and capability to extend human existence to deep space, for the benefit of life on Earth.
Artemis II is the second deep space mission for the program and will return humans to lunar orbit for the first time in 50 years. During the Artemis II mission, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will propel the crewed Orion spacecraft out of Earth’s atmosphere to travel around the Moon and back. The Artemis missions aim to put the first woman and first person of color on the Moon and enable sustainable exploration of more of the lunar surface than ever before.
Our team designs, develops, tests and produces the SLS rocket’s core stage, upper stages and avionics.
The core stage delivers propellants to four RS-25 engines through launch and ascent.
Upper stages — an Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage for initial versions of SLS and a more powerful Exploration Upper Stage later on — boost an Orion spacecraft or cargo element out of Earth’s orbit.
The rocket will blast off from Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
At launch of Artemis I, the rocket’s core stage will burn more than 700,000 gallons (2.6 million liters) of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. It will produce 8.8 million pounds (4 million kilograms) of thrust and reach an altitude of 530,000 feet (161,500 meters) — more power and height than the Apollo Saturn V rockets.
After jettisoning the solid rocket boosters and launch abort system, the core stage engines will shut down and the stage will separate from the spacecraft.
As the spacecraft orbits Earth, the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) will give Orion the push needed to travel toward the Moon.
The ICPS and the rest of SLS combined have a payload lift capability of 59,500 pounds (27 metric tons) — about four African elephants.
In the future, SLS with the Exploration Upper Stage — with a lift capability of 95,600 pounds (42 metric tons) — will boost Orion astronauts, a payload full of cargo or both to deep space.
Propelled by its service module, Orion will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 kilometers) from Earth, far beyond the Moon.
Orion’s unique design will allow it to navigate, communicate and operate in a deep space environment and stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has ever achieved without docking to a space station. It will also return home faster and at a higher temperature than ever before.
Splashdown will take place in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California.