Exploration Mission 1

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"EM-1" redirects here. For other uses, see EM1 (disambiguation).
Exploration Mission 1
Operator NASA/ESA
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type Orion MPCV
Start of mission
Launch date November 2018[1]
Rocket SLS Block 1[2]
Launch site Kennedy LC-39B[3]
End of mission
Landing site Pacific Ocean[4]
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Circumlunar
Flyby of the Moon
Closest approach December 2018
Distance TBD

Orion logo.png

Beyond Low Earth Orbit Program
← EFT-1 EM-2

Exploration Mission 1 or EM-1 (previously known as Space Launch System 1 or SLS-1) is the first planned flight of the Space Launch System and the second uncrewed test flight of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. As of April 2012, the launch is projected to occur sometime around November 2018 from Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center, and the Orion spacecraft would perform a circumlunar trajectory during the seven day mission.[3][5] It is planned to be followed by Exploration Mission 2.


The Block 1 version of SLS used on this mission will consist of two five-segment Solid Rocket Boosters, four RS-25D engines built for the Space Shuttle program and an Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage.[5] EM-1 is intended to demonstrate the integrated spacecraft systems prior to a crewed flight and demonstrate a high speed reentry (11 km/s) on Orion's thermal protection system.[5]

On January 16, 2013, NASA announced that the European Space Agency would build Orion's service module based on its Automated Transfer Vehicle, so the flight could also be regarded as a test of ESA hardware as well as American, and of how the ESA components interact with the American Orion components.[6]



Apollo 8 had a similar flight path and was also a mission designed to flight test a Command Service Module beyond Earth orbit, it was crewed by 3 astronauts and was lifted by the Saturn V vehicle in 1968.

Apollo 13 also flew a similar flight path after sustaining damage in an explosion. The spacecraft remained on a free return trajectory as it passed the moon, and as a result it holds the current absolute altitude record for a manned spacecraft. The mission's commander, Jim Lovell, holds the distinction of having set this record twice, the first time on Apollo 8.


  1. ^ Exploration Mission 1: SLS and Orion mission to the Moon outlined, Chris Bergin, 29 February 2012
  2. ^ Bergin, Chris (23 February 2012). "Acronyms to Ascent – SLS managers create development milestone roadmap". NASASpaceflight.com. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Hill, Bill (March 2012). "Exploration Systems Development Status". NASA Advisory Council. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Bergin, Chris (14 June 2012). "NASA teams evaluating ISS-built Exploration Platform roadmap". NASASpaceflight.com. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Singer, Jody (25 April 2012). "Status of NASA’s Space Launch System". NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "NASA Signs Agreement for a European-Provided Orion Service Module". NASA. 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 

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