CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (KGO) -- NASA Astronauts say the newly launched Artemis I rocket is the first of a new plan for space exploration. They say the project plans to explore new areas of the moon that haven't been seen yet, and that begins with the launching of the first rocket.
It is the first moon exploration since the Apollo missions in the late 60s early 70s.
"The Apollo mission literally changed the way we see our solar system," said Jessica Meir, a NASA astronaut. "We are learning new things from our solar system everyday. That will continue with the Artemis missions because we are going to totally unexplored regions. We will be able to obtain different types of samples with different types of technology."
This rocket is not manned by astronauts; a mannequin is on board. Meir says this first rocket is meant to see how the capsule holds up when it returns to Earth. She says the team needs to make sure it is safe before sending astronauts in the next launch.
"As we re enter the atmosphere, we will be coming very quickly. (At) 25,000 miles-per-hour -- it will be very hot," Meir said. "We are literally burning up in the atmosphere as you come through. That heat shield is the one thing that protects everything in the capsule as well as the astronauts inside."
This launch has been delayed several times, but now the rocket is on its way to the moon. Meir says they have much better technology this time versus the Apollo mission. She says NASA plans to use this to discover new things about the moon it hasn't learned yet. They hope to collect enough data to one day start planning a mission to send humans to Mars.
"We will build upon our success from the space station to these moon missions," she said. "Then we will use those missions to demonstrate the science, the hardware, the technology to get us ready to propel even further and to one day make our way to Mars."
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