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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— The clock is ticking for the Artemis I mission back to the moon, and a NASA facility in the New Orleans area played a role in the return to space.

WGNO’s Kenny Lopez got a tour of this “rocket factory”, the Michoud Assembly Facility to learn the role that Michoud played in this very important moon mission.

This is a milestone for NASA with Artemis I set to launch on August 29th out of Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Currently, Michoud Assembly Facility is building the rocket and its components for Artemis II, III, and IV—which will send astronauts to the moon.

Not since 1972 has an astronaut set foot on the moon. With the Artemis Mission, NASA will make its triumphant return.

“All built here from the welding site, it is designed, built, tested, and shipped to Kennedy Space Center,” Jennifer Boland-Masterson, Director of Boeing Production Operations at Michoud said.

Lonnie Dutreix, Director of the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility said, “The major role of Michoud is we built the core stage for Artemis. The challenges were getting the facility modified and tooling to build a rocket for the first time.”

Currently at this “rocket factory,” Boeing and Lockheed Martin are building the necessary components for Artemis Two, Three, and Four.

“We built the launch abort system and the crew and service modules,” Joe Arves, Lockheed Martin Deputy Chief Engineer for the Orion program said.

The Orion consists of the modules that will have the astronauts inside.

“We have a launch abort system that we didn’t have on Apollo. Send the astronauts to safety in the event of a catastrophic event,” Tim Livingston with Lockheed Martin said.

As we continued the tour, NASA engineers showed us the space launch system which includes the liquid tank domes, the Orion modules, and the crowd pleaser—the 212-foot rocket that will be used in Artemis II.

NASA engineers say these Artemis missions are launching us into the future.

“We want to have inflatable habitats on the moon, to reside on the moon. It is going back to the moon, but how do you live there. I always think of the movie, “The Martian” with Matt Damon, Lonnie Dutreix said.

The reason NASA wants to eventually have housing on the moon is so that it can be used as a “base” to send materials and astronauts to Mars.

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This current mission—the launch of Artemis I won’t have any crew aboard. It is more of a testing mission. It will simply circle the moon and then return to Earth, and should take about 42 days to do so.

Artemis II is tentatively scheduled for 2024, in which the crew will go into space to learn the maneuvers. Then Artemis III is tentatively scheduled for 2025, and will be the lunar landing.