Head to CNN for live coverage from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday afternoon. Space correspondent Kristin Fisher will provide us with moment-by-moment coverage of the launch, along with a team of experts.
But if you’re a casual observer, there may be few things more confusing than hearing some of the jargon used by mission control.
For anyone who isn’t a NASA scientist or amateur astrophysicist, here are some terms you might hear during the historic launch — and what they mean.
NASA plans to launch Artemis I on Saturday. If the launch is a “go”, it means things are on track. If it’s a “no go”, the launch may be delayed.
as a mission counting down teams, they will use phrases and shorthand that may not be familiar. Expect to hear “SLS” to indicate the rocket, rather than Space Launch System, and “nominal” to indicate that things are normal or going as planned.
When the rocket is charged with cryogenic (super-cold) liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to fuel takeoff, the abbreviation is “LO2” for oxygen and “LH2” for hydrogen.
There’s a good chance Artemis’ launch team will call it “ICPS,” which refers to the intermediate cryogenic propulsion phase. This top segment of the rocket will give Orion the propulsion it needs in space, after the two solid fuel rocket boosters and the nuclear stage, or backbone, of the rocket separate from the spacecraft.
The core phase of the missile includes engines, propellant tanks and avionics, or avionics systems.
During the countdown, teams will refer to “L Minus” and “T Minus” times.
“L Minus” is used to indicate the time to launch in hours and minutes, while “T Minus” corresponds to the events included in the launch countdown.
If the launch team announces a “hold”, it is a natural pause in the countdown intended to allow tasks or to wait for a specific launch window that does not disrupt the schedule. During a hold, expect the countdown clock and T Minus time to stop while the L Minus time will continue.
shorthand after launch
After launch, the team can refer to the solid rocket boosters as “SRB” and the launch abort system as “LAS”. Two of the launch abort system’s three engines can be used to safely return the Orion crew module to Earth in the event of a failure or system failure during launch. The third engine is used to jettison the launch abort system, which occurs shortly after launch if all goes well.
Several “burns,” which occur when the propulsion system starts, are likely to be listed after launch.
The “Perigee Raise Maneuver” will take place approximately 12 minutes after launch. That’s when the ICPS experiences a burn to raise Orion’s height so it doesn’t re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.
Soon after is the “translunar injection fire,” when the ICPS increases Orion’s speed from 17,500 miles per hour (28,163 kilometers per hour) to 22,600 miles per hour (36,371 kilometers per hour) to escape the pull of gravity. from the earth and set out for the moon. After this combustion, the ICPS will separate from Orion.
Saturday around 9:45 p.m. ET, Orion will burn its first “outbound trajectory correction” using the European service module, which will provide the spacecraft with power, propulsion and thermal control. This maneuver will put Orion on a path to the moon.
On his journey, Artemis I will venture further beyond the moon than any spacecraft intended to carry humans. It is expected to spend 37 days in space, entering a distant retrograde orbit around the moon before crashing into the Pacific Ocean near San Diego on Oct. 11.
It’s just the beginning of the Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the moon and eventually land manned missions on Mars.