NASA’s huge moon rocket heads to launch pad for test flight

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NASA’s new moon rocket arrived at the launch pad on Wednesday for its debut flight in less than two weeks.

The 322-foot rocket emerged from its giant hangar late Tuesday, drawing crowds of Kennedy Space Center workers, many of whom were not yet born when NASA sent astronauts to the moon half a century ago. It took nearly 10 hours for the rocket to make the four-mile journey to the trail and lift off at dawn.

NASA is aiming for an August 29 launch for the test flight on the moon. No one will be in the crew pod on top of the rocket, just three mannequins teeming with sensors to measure radiation and vibration.

NASA is aiming for an August 29 launch for the test flight on the moon.
REUTERS

The capsule will fly around the moon in distant orbit for a few weeks before returning for a landing in the Pacific Ocean. The entire flight should take six weeks.

The flight is the first moonshot in NASA’s Artemis program. The space agency is aiming for a lunar orbital flight with astronauts in two years and a moon landing by a human crew as early as 2025. That’s much later than NASA had anticipated when it drafted the program more than a decade ago, as the space shuttle fleet is pension. The years of delay have added billions of dollars to the cost.

“Now, for the first time since 1972, we’re going to launch a rocket designed for deep space,” NASA’s rocket program manager, John Honeycutt, said recently.

NASA’s new SLS moon rocket, short for Space Launch System, is 41 feet shorter than the Saturn V rockets used during Apollo half a century ago. But it’s more powerful, using a core stage and dual strap-on boosters, similar to the ones used for the space shuttles.

“If you look at the rocket, it almost looks retro. It looks like we’re looking back at Saturn V,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson told reporters earlier this month. “But it’s a totally different, new, very advanced, more advanced rocket and spacecraft.”

Twenty-four astronauts flew to the moon during Apollo, 12 of which landed on the moon from 1969 to 1972. The space agency wants a more diverse team and more sustained efforts under Artemis, named after Apollo’s mythological twin sister.

The capsule will fly around the moon in distant orbit for a few weeks before returning for a landing in the Pacific Ocean.
The capsule will fly around the moon in distant orbit for a few weeks before returning for a landing in the Pacific Ocean.
REUTERS
NASA's new SLS moon rocket, short for Space Launch System, is 41 feet shorter than the Saturn V rockets used during Apollo half a century ago.
NASA’s new SLS moon rocket, short for Space Launch System, is 41 feet shorter than the Saturn V rockets used during Apollo half a century ago.
AP

“I want to underline that this is a test flight,” Nelson said. “It’s just the beginning.”

This was the rocket’s third trip to the path. An April countdown was marred by fuel leaks and other equipment problems, forcing NASA to return the rocket to the hangar for repairs. The dress rehearsal was repeated on the pad in June, with improved results.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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