Tune in to CNN for live coverage from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida through Monday morning’s launch. Space correspondents Kristin Fisher and Rachel Crane, along with a team of experts, will provide a moment-by-moment account of the launch.
Performances by such celebrities as Jack Black, Chris Evans and Keke Palmer and performances of Josh Groban and Herbie Hancock’s “The Star-Spangled Banner” and The Philadelphia Orchestra’s “America the Beautiful” and cellist Yo-Yo Ma are also featured on the program .
It’s a sight to behold as the 322-foot-tall stack, comprising the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft, glows in the early morning darkness at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The stack is located on the historic Launchpad 39B, where Apollo 10 and shuttle missions have previously been launched.
Weather conditions remain 80% favorable for a launch at the start of a window that is latest forecast to open at 8:33 a.m. and close at 10:33 a.m. ET.
However, offshore storms with possible lightning strikes prevented the team from starting refueling for more than an hour, as it was scheduled to start at midnight.
The hold was lifted at 1:13 a.m. ET and the refueling process has begun.
The rocket’s core stage will be charged with super-cold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen over the next few hours.
Currently, engineers are also trying to figure out what caused an 11-minute delay in communications between the Orion spacecraft and ground systems. The issue could affect the start of the terminals count, or the countdown that starts when there are 10 minutes left on the clock before launch. But engineers feel good about figuring out the problem before the terminal count, according to NASA.
Orion’s journey takes 42 days as it travels to the moon, orbits it, and returns to Earth — a total of 1.3 million miles (2.1 million kilometers). The capsule will crash into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego on October 10.
While the passenger list doesn’t include people, there are passengers: three mannequins and a plush Snoopy toy will ride in Orion.
Expect views of Earthrise, similar to what was first shared during Apollo 8, but with much better cameras and technology.
The inaugural mission of the Artemis program will be the beginning of a phase of space exploration that will land several astronaut crews on previously unexplored regions of the moon and eventually deliver manned missions to Mars.