VP Harris to View Artemis I Launch at KSC

VP Harris to View Artemis I Launch at KSC

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband will travel to Kennedy Space Center on Monday to watch the Artemis I launch in person. She chairs the White House National Space Council and her engagement in space activities is picking up a little.

At the moment, launch is still on track for August 29 at 8:33 am ET. The almost two-day countdown begins at 10:23 am ET tomorrow.

Space launches can be delayed for many reasons, especially the first launch of a new vehicle, but NASA is projecting optimism about Monday’s launch of Artemis I.  The weather forecast is 70 percent favorable. The launch window is open for two hours.

The Artemis I Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft at Launch Complex-39B, August 17, 2022. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

This is the first launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. No one is aboard the uncrewed test flight, scheduled to last 42 days. That’s twice the duration intended for any mission carrying people, deliberately stressing the spacecraft’s systems to their limits as part of the test program.

A White House official on background said today that Harris will make remarks at the launch about U.S. leadership in space, thank the NASA workforce, private sector partners and international partners for their work, and highlight Artemis’s historic significance in sending the first woman and the first person of color to the Moon. She also will tour Artemis II and Artemis III hardware with her husband, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaking about novel commercial space industries at the Chabot Space and Science Center, Oakland, CA, August 12, 2022. Screenshot.

It’s a high-profile tribute to the Artemis program and comes on the heels of Harris’s meeting with companies pursuing novel commercial space pursuits two weeks ago where she announced the next Space Council meeting will take place on September 9 to discuss what regulatory actions are needed from the government to help them succeed.

It is only the second time she’s called the Space Council together. The 20-member Council’s charge is to coordinate U.S. national space policy and includes 13 members of the Cabinet in addition to Harris and other top civil and national security space officials including the NASA Administrator.

The first meeting, on December 1, 2021, addressed several topics, but most significantly focused on the need for international norms of behavior in space. The attention stemmed from a Russian antisatellite test two weeks earlier that created thousand of pieces of debris that imperiled space objects including the International Space Station. On April 18, she pledged the United States will not conduct debris-generating direct-ascent ASAT tests and called on other countries to join.

She has cited NASA’s Artemis Accords as an example of establishing international norms of behavior, in that case for activities on the Moon. Developed by NASA and the State Department while Jim Bridenstine was Administrator, 21 countries have signed so far.

A successful Artemis I launch will pave the way to the future envisioned in those Accords, whether it happens on Monday or the backup days on September 2 or September 5.


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