Orion spacecraft scheduled to lift off this morning (check at 8:30 Eastern time); watch here

August 29, 2022 • 5:30 am

UPDATE: Today’s launch has been scrubbed because there’s a problem with the cryogenic hydrogen that’s used as fuel.  They are still troubleshooting as they have no idea what’s wrong. The earliest that a launch can occur is now early afternoon Friday, so stay tuned.


I’m putting this up early as the blastoff could occur as early as 8:30 Eastern time.  The announcement was sent to me by my William & Mary pal James “Bat” Batterson, who used to work for NASA, and I’m putting it up exactly as he sent it (indented):

Just a heads up that first moonshot with human-capable Orion spacecraft is scheduled for Monday morning in a window between approximately 0830 and 1030 EDT from Cape Kennedy. This rocket is as powerful as the Saturn V of the Apollo days of the 1960’s and 70’s and should be an impressive (noisy) blast off. As best I can tell – I have not followed things that closely – the first 8-9 minutes, as with the space shuttles, is the critical period to low earth orbit (LEO), with the next several hours having scheduled boost burns to get the vehicle into a lunar trajectory for the next several days.
This will be an uncrewed rehearsal, but will cycle through all stages required for a human-crewed flight to the Moon. So fingers crossed that it will be successful. As with anything this complex, lots of things need to go extraordinarily right.
There appears to be lots of streaming and tv coverage planned including CNN; i expect even the networks but they will likely have obnoxious talking heads; and my usual go-to: space.com which usually links in NASA TV live.
Here’s the live NASA feed. As I watched this at about 5 a.m. Chicago time, there was already a hydrogen leak that they were trying to repair.


An update from Bat at 6:30 Eastern time:

I am watching on space.com which has a video of nasa.live going.  Came on air at 0630. There are some issues being worked with fuel and they think that the planned 0832 launch time may slip but do not know by how much yet.  There are really crisp beautiful views of the full rocket and of some of its components. One of the great technological advances since apollo has been digital video in place of film!
You will notice that the configuration has the capsule that will carry people in future missions at the top of the stack, ahead of the rocket fuel. This is due in a large part from a safety lesson taken from space shuttle flights that it is dangerous to have people positioned next to fuel as it makes an emergency abort difficult to impossible. This system has a launch abort system (LAS) that, in case of an emergency, can engage and quickly carry the capsule well away from the booster anytime from sitting on the launch pad and into the first few minutes of flight. One of my former engineers is flight dynamics lead on the LAS, a project he started working on about the time that I retired in 2008.  These very complex engineering projects do not happen overnight!

NBC in the Bay Area has a photographic as well as a data comparison of both the crew modules and booster rockets.  For example, here’s the Apollo module that was part of the Moon launches:

And the Orion module:

7 thoughts on “Orion spacecraft scheduled to lift off this morning (check at 8:30 Eastern time); watch here

  1. I find the comparison between Apollo and Artemis fascinating. Clearly, Artemis has many technological advances over Apollo, but, for me, the latest venture confirms what an unbelievable job NASA accomplished more than half a century ago, less than 70 years after the Wright brothers. For me, and perhaps many others of my generation, the words Apollo and Saturn V evoke a sense of awe that borders on the religious. Can anybody of my generation forget where they were and how they felt when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon?

    1. Being pretty much of your generation, Historian, I agree. I grew up in a NACA/NASA family with my dad, an aeronautical engineer, starting work at the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the predecessor backbone agency to NASA) in 1939. In part because families were lucky to have even one car in those days, I remember that though the 1950’s, my dad rode in a carpool with four other engineers so that my mother and other moms could use the family car for carpooling kids to school on other days. Everyone pretty much worked an 8-430 shift to allow this carpooling. But around 1959 (NACA labs were rolled into NASA when NASA was created in late 1958), I noticed changes. My father was working in the space program on the Surveyor Project for an unmanned soft landing on the moon which would prepare the way for the manned Apollo landings. We got a second car – a clunker that only a real engineer could keep running – there was later a joke that you could spot the Director of the Laboratory because he drove the oldest car there as he was the best engineer and could keep it running! He used that second car because he had to be at work for meetings before 8:00 and well after 4:30 all of a sudden. He was on travel to the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena for weeks at a time. By the mid – late 60’s in the midst of Surveyor missions, he was up well after midnight at the kitchen table grinding away at equations…and as that generation did, filling the room with awful cigar smoke for us kids to wake up to in the morning. He, and many of his colleagues had to transform from what was close to a university research environment to a very focussed engineering development one with extreme pressure for deliverables. The nation was putting several per cent of the GDP into NASA – a wartime budget – to get men on the moon and expected a wartime priority from the lead agency. Here is an excerpt from a 1962 meeting in the cabinet room on a budget plus up in which President Kennedy has a hard time with convincing the NASA Administrator, James Webb, to understand that this moon program is not just “business as usual:

      “….President Kennedy: Do you put…. Do you put this program…. Do you think this program is the top-priority program of the Agency?

      James Webb: No, sir, I do not. I think it is one of the top-priority programs, but I think it’s very important to recognize here…and that you have found what you could do with a rocket as you could find how you could get out beyond the Earth’s atmosphere and into space and make measurements. Several scientific disciplines that are the very powerful and begin to converge on this area.

      President Kennedy: Jim, I think it is the top priority. I think we ought to have that very clear. Some of these other programs can slip six months, or nine months, and nothing strategic is gonna happen, it’s gonna…. But this is important for political reasons, international political reasons. This is, whether we like it or not, in a sense a race. If we get second to the Moon, it’s nice, but it’s like being second any time. So that if we’re second by six months, because we didn’t give it the kind of priority, then of course that would be very serious. So I think we have to take the view that this is the top priority with us.

      James Webb: But the environment of space is where you are going to operate the Apollo and where you are going to do the landing.

      President Kennedy: Look, I know all these other things and the satellite and the communications and weather and all, they’re all desirable, but they can wait.

      James Webb: I’m not putting those…. I am talking now about the scientific program to understand the space environment within which you got to fly Apollo and make a landing on the Moon.
      President Kennedy: Wait a minute—is that saying that the lunar program to land the man on the Moon is the top priority of the Agency, is it?
      Unknown speaker: And the science that goes with it….
      Robert Seamans: Well, yes, if you add that, the science that is necessary….

      President Kennedy: The science…. Going to the Moon is the top-priority project. Now, there are a lot of related scientific information and developments that will come from that which are important. But the whole thrust of the Agency, in my opinion, is the lunar program. The rest of it can wait six or nine months.

      1. Jim, thanks for the story about your dad. The Apollo project completed its mission (a manned landing on the moon) in less than a decade, as President Kennedy hoped. This strikes me as remarkable since major projects today seem to drag on forever. I am not sure why, but those people of the World War II generation and shortly thereafter (as well as previous generations of Americans) seemed to get things done, such as the interstate highway system, without all the delays that are encountered today. Assuming my premise is correct (maybe it isn’t), the reasons for this are undoubtedly a topic of much discussion and debate among economists, students of government, historians of technology and innovation, and other scholars.

        1. Yep. I started to write something about that generation being of the Great Depression and WW2 but left that out. There was carping by some I am told. They wanted to keep working on airplane research, but a critical mass “got it” and refocussed their work. Plus you could pretty much hire lots of new folks, bring on contract work force to work side by side with the civilian service, let contracts to companies, and bring in the absolute best of university support: the names of my father’s colleagues on Surveyor read like what would be a who’s who from the National Academies today….eugene shoemaker, tony turkevich, ron scott, gene kuiper, hal mazursky, tommy gold…. When Paul Offit was asked last year about how we could develop and deploy a Covid vaccine so quickly, he replied something like “well $17B didn’t hurt”. Kennedy gave the goal and with LBJ got the money that was, at its max, really wartime spending…i think like 3% of the GDP in the early 60’s or something like that. There were four different major projects that all had to be successful and timely being fully funded in parallel: 1. Human space flight (which had three sub-projects that had to flow one into the other): projects mercury, gemini, and apollo); 2. Ranger (learning to “hit the moon” and get higher resolution surface photos than we had from earth based telescopes); 3. lunar orbiter (successfully orbit the moon, discover its mass distribution characteristics, get very high resolution, low altitude pictures of surface); and 4. surveyor (do unmanned soft landing to understand terminal descent and landing navigation and control issues as well as surface soil mechanics properties).
          Plus I think that Nasa policies were written and interpreted to support the national goal of man on moon before decade is out. My sense is that lawyers and accountants did not successfully stick their fingers into the policy works until the early 70’s…after the national goal had been accomplished.

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