NASA in ‘good posture’ ahead of second debut moon rocket launch, astronaut says

“It doesn’t worry us because that is part of the process. It’s how we do things at NASA – it’s incremental and we test and we iterate, and we learn along the way.

“That’s why we’re doing this mission – this Artemis I flight is a test flight to test out all the capacity of the space launch system rocket and the Orion capsule. It is the necessary last step before we can put humans onboard.”

If all goes as hoped, the SLS will blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, during a two-hour launch window that opens at 6:17 am on Sunday morning (NZ time), sending the Orion on an uncrewed, six-week test flight around the moon and back.

The long-awaited voyage would kick off NASA’s moon-to-Mars Artemis program, the successor to the Apollo lunar project of the 1960s and ’70s before US human spaceflight efforts shifted to low-Earth orbit with space shuttles and the International Space Station.

Meir told AM she’d do anything to experience the feeling of going into space again.

“We don’t know yet who the crew will be – we won’t assign that crew until after this mission comes back successfully so we’ll assign the crew for the Artemis II mission about two years in advance.

“If this one goes well – we would hopefully be assigning those names before the end of the year, so it could be me but it could be one of my friends and colleagues.

“I’ve accomplished the dream of going to space – of doing a space walk even – and this would really just be the icing on the cake. But it’s not about personal achievement – it’s really about representing humanity.”

The last humans to walk on the moon were the two-man descent team of Apollo 17 in 1972, following in the footsteps of 10 other astronauts during five earlier missions beginning with Apollo 11 in 1969.

Watch the video for the full interview.