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'We’re on the doorstep of history': NASA Glenn Research Center employees play pivotal role in Artemis launch

The launch is scheduled for Monday at 8:33 a.m.
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Posted at 5:00 PM, Aug 25, 2022
and last updated 2023-04-27 13:49:32-04

CLEVELAND — A new chapter in space exploration is slated to begin on Monday, as NASA is scheduled to launch Artemis I, the first spacecraft in a larger mission that will help send humans back to the moon and set up a future for human exploration of Mars.

With an uncrewed Orion spacecraft, equipped with NASA’s most powerful rocket since the era of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and the Apollo missions; Artemis I is set to orbit the Moon after a scheduled launch Monday at 8:33 a.m.

50 years after man last left its mark on the soil of the moon, Northeast Ohioans Steve Barsi and Ben Van Lear make up part of the team at NASA Glenn tasked with helping prepare for America's return.

“Monday has been a long time coming,” Barsi said. “I’ve been working on Orion for the last eight years. I think we’re on the doorstep of history here.”

The two both worked with European partners to assemble and test the pieces that will help propel the Orion spacecraft as it orbits the moon.

“To do these kinds of incredible engineering feats, sending a spacecraft that will carry people back around the moon and that I can work on while living up here in Cleveland is really cool,” Van Lear said.

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Steve Barsi poses in front of Artemis I during a rollout earlier this year.

Barsi is slated to travel to Houston to work in mission control during the launch, while Van Lear is already on his way to Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch in person.

Barsi and Van Lear are also two of the four Glenn employees who are slated to receive the Space Flight Awareness Honoree Award during the festivities surrounding Artemis. The award is one of the highest presented for dedication to quality work and flight safety.

The Artemis I Orion spacecraft that's out on the launch pad was in Sandusky just a couple of years ago being tested in a thermal vacuum environment.

That’s in addition to 62 Ohio companies that helped provide support for Artemis, whether that was equipment, research or testing.

RELATED: NASA Glenn Research Center hosts Ohio Space Forum, leaders discuss future development in Ohio

For both of these engineers, work has already begun on Artemis 2, the first crewed mission which is currently slated for sometime in 2024.

“Northeast Ohio is playing a big role in making this vision a reality,” Barsi explained.

To celebrate the occasion, the Great Lakes Science Center is hosting a free event Saturday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. which will feature Artemis exhibits, hands-on activities, and several NASA experts discussing Glenn’s role with the mission.

Additionally, the Science Center is scheduled to begin streaming at 6:30 a.m. Monday the broadcast of pre-launch activities followed by the launch scheduled for 8:33 a.m.