NASA’s most powerful rocket is poised to make its way to the launch pad for its inaugural launch as part of the Artemis 1 mission to the moon. The space agency will roll out the massive Space Launch System (SLS) to Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday evening, and the historic kickoff of humanity’s return to the moon will all be live-streamed. We’ll have to wait a little longer for the big launch itself, though, as the launch won’t take place before August 29.
NASA’s livestream of the rollout begins Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET. You can watch the action on the NASA Kennedy YouTube Channel or at the feed below.
SLS is no stranger to the launch pad, having previously made the 4-mile (6.4 kilometers) journey for a series of wet dress rehearsals it didn’t exactly go smoothly. Despite some lingering issues which remained after the fourth rehearsal, NASA declared that it was going to launch the SLS.
The launch represents Artemis 1, the first mission in NASA’s Artemis Program which aims to return humans to the moon as early as 2026 and establish a lasting presence on and around Earth’s largest satellite. For its launch, the 322-meter-high rocket will be equipped with an unmanned Orion capsule on top. The rocket will launch the capsule into orbit; Orion will travel on its own to lunar orbit, where it will make a short flight before returning to Earth after 42 days in space. Artemis 1 is a test mission and marks the first integrated flight of SLS and Orion.
The mission is currently scheduled for August 29 at 8:33 a.m. ET, with backup windows available on September 2 and September 5. Artemis 2 is currently scheduled for late 2024, when a crew will board the Orion capsule for the journey to the Moon, without landing on the surface. The main event is Artemis 3, which could take place in 2026, in which NASA plans to land a man and a woman on the lunar surface.
The upcoming launch is set to draw a huge crowd, with more than 100,000 visitors expected to watch the activity at the Kennedy Space Center. With less than two weeks to go before its big debut, SLS will be (very) high on the well-known launch pad.
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