NEW ORLEANS — Mayor LaToya Cantrell will travel to Florida to witness the historic launch of Artemis I from Kennedy Space Center. The Artemis I Space Launch System (SLS), a complex system of rockets, and Orion spacecraft were built at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans East.
“Progress is a defining characteristic of our City, and it’s only fitting that the women and men of New Orleans play such a vital role in this historic space mission,” said Mayor Cantrell. “The Artemis rocket, proudly developed and constructed in New Orleans East, will explore the heavens, and the knowledge she returns will benefit our world for generations to come.”
The exploration mission of Artemis I includes an unmanned flight around the moon. The first flight kicks off a series of complex flights that will test NASA’s plan to send the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface and beyond the moon, eventually traveling to Mars. The mission will result in 280,000 miles traveled from Earth and thousands more around the Moon, reams of data collected, coupled with experience that will enable NASA to land manned missions on the moon by 2024. Orion will stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before.
The NASA Michoud Assembly Facility, known as the nation’s rocket factory, is part of the Gulf Coast space corridor, where rockets are built, tested and launched into space. This corridor also includes the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Michoud facility houses major government and private sector tenants including Boeing, Lockheed Martin and LM Windpower.
The SLS is 322 feet tall when fully assembled and is the largest, most powerful rocket ever built. The 212-foot-tall core stage, the biggest and most powerful part of the SLS, and the Orion crew module that will sit atop the SLS rocket stage, was also assembled at the Michoud Assembly Facility. The facility has over 3,500 on-site employees, over 2 million square feet of manufacturing space, features the world’s largest robotic tool for building rockets and is home to the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing (NCAM).
NCAM is a state-of-the-art manufacturing center within the facility that is a collaboration among NASA, the State of Louisiana, LSU, UNO and other partners.
The first flight will take a total of 42 days to complete. Officials estimate the total distance traveled by Orion will exceed 1.3 million miles.