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NASA launches Artemis I mission


NASA launches Artemis I mission

Today's Artemis I launch comes as a space race heats up between dominant global superpowers.
Photo: Joel Kowsky/NASA

NASA is expected to launch the most powerful rocket it has ever assembled from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center today. 

The unmanned launch is the first mission of NASA’s Artemis lunar program. A Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule will travel roughly 1.3 million miles over 42 days to the Moon. NASA plans on landing astronauts on the Moon by the program’s third mission—slated for 2025. Thus far the project is highly over budget. In 2012, officials estimated that development and launch of the rocket would cost $6.5 billion; the current price tag is $20 billion in development and a predicted $4.1 billion for launch.

Expect Beijing and Moscow—Washington’s principle 21st century space race rivals—to closely monitor but ultimately dismiss today’s launch in the event it is timely and successful. Russia declined a US invitation to participate in the Artemis program—sent years before the current collapse in diplomatic relations. Moreover, NASA is barred from direct bilateral space cooperation with China without congressional approval. Anticipate both countries to center their criticism on the delay and cost of the program, their own successes in space travel and the extent to which commercial space development has uprooted NASA’s prerogative in recent decades. 

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