MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — The Artemis I Mission is set to launch on Monday, and with launch day just around the corner, many Alabamians, including of group of first graders from Columbia Elementary, are excitedly awaiting liftoff.
Columbia Elementary School, named for the Space Shuttle Columbia, and its students have strong ties to the space program, including parents and grandparents that worked in Madison County to send astronauts to space.
“I certainly have been very excited about building a rocket that’s going to take us back to the moon,” said Caneilia Patterson, a systems engineer for a NASA contractor.
Patterson spoke to a class of first-grade students on Thursday about the upcoming Artemis I mission. Students learned about the SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft.
Some students have seen a rocket before.
“I went to a rocket center and saw a rocket launch off for NASA,” said Jackson, a first-grader at Columbia Elementary.
But for many, the Artemis I mission will be the first launch they see.
“We definitely want to get this generation excited about it, so they can be our future engineers and astronauts, and help us get beyond the moon,” Patterson said.
The Artemis I mission is unmanned. The primary objective of the upcoming launch is to test the Orion heat shield, paving the way for American astronauts to eventually return to the moon.
Several of the students said they dream of traveling to space.
“I want to find some cool moon rocks,” Jackson said.
Maybe one day, one of these first graders will step foot on the lunar surface or beyond.