TJC planetarium director says NASA’s latest launch first step to putting humans back on moon

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 12:35 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2022 at 8:19 PM CST

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - With the successful launch of NASA’s Artemis 1 we are on track to once again step foot on the moon. TJC Earth and Space Science Director Beau Hartweg gives a look at what the flight will be like on lunar approach.

If it’s about space, the Earth and Space Science Center at TJC is the place. Director Beau Hartweg launches into a conversation about, well, the Artemis 1 launch.

“So, this is a test launch and they’re stressing that. But yeah, this is an unmanned mission. But it’s the first successful launch of the SLS, the Space Launch System, which will be the rocket that sends people back to the moon,” Hartweg said.

And NASA was nice enough to record it so I didn’t have to be in Florida at 1 a.m. Central.

“NASA’s working with lots of different partners to find a way to make getting back to the moon more affordable and easier and sustainable,” Hartweg said.

Reusable solid fuel boosters help, and the rocket has “the Orion Capsule that’s kind of on the top. That would be the crew’s portion of the mission,” Hartweg said.

The unmanned mission broke Earth’s gravity and was on its way. But there was nearly another delay because of Hurricane Nicole.

“They debated should they bring it back in for safety or just leave it out there. And so, there was some concern as to whether or not it would launch successfully. But thankfully everything checked out and we had a successful launch,” Hartweg said.

And soon the moon will be in the Atremis’ sights.

“On its closest approach it’s going to be 60 miles from the moon,” Hartweg said.

And when the Artemis is close it’ll put a few things in orbit.

“They are small satellites that universities and college students have sent up on board this mission, so they’ll do some science for universities,” Hartweg said.

He says system will be tested and “for going to the moon we’re going to get some data,” Hartweg said.

Then the return flight and “hopefully splash down successfully December 11,” Hartweg said.

He says that’ll be in the Pacific Ocean. I don’t think all the petitioning in the world would get them to do that at Lake Tyler.

If this mission is successful NASA plans on sending a manned flight to the moon in May of 2024, although there will not be a moon landing on the Artemis 2 flight.

The rocket launched after midnight Wednesday.