NASA will roll out its massive rocket for a flight around the moon ahead of schedule.
The agency targeted the Artemis 1 Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on Thursday (Aug. 18) to make the slow trek to Kennedy Space Center’s launch complex 39B ahead of its Aug. 29 launch. But on Monday (Aug. 15), NASA announced:
(opens in new tab) that the plan changed, with the rollout being shifted to Tuesday night (August 16). You can check out coverage of the rollout as of 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) courtesy of NASA.
“@NASA is targeting @NASA_SLS rollout on Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 9:00 p.m. EDT ahead of a targeted #Artemis I launch on Aug. 29,” agency officials wrote in a statement.
tweet (opens in new tab).
Live updates: NASA’s Artemis 1 Moon Mission
The Artemis 1 stack rolls to the launch pad atop the Apollo-era Crawler transporter 2. While the crawler and rocket will travel just 4 miles (6.4 kilometers), the journey will take eight to 12 hours, according to previous NASA statements.
This week’s rollout marks the rocket’s third parade from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to the launch pad. Previous launches, in March and June, preceded attempts at what NASA calls a wet dress rehearsal, during which the rocket is fueled and personnel go through all the steps prior to launch.
Both visits ended with the Artemis 1 stack, consisting of the SLS rocket and the Orion capsule, continuing its journey to the massive VAB for adjustments and preparatory work.
This time, if all goes well, the rocket will make a much more dramatic take-off from the launch pad and blast off on an unmanned test mission around the moon that NASA hopes will clear the way for current astronauts to set foot on the moon. Launch could take place as early as August 29; additional launch options will be available on September 2 and 5.
Depending on the launch date, the Artemis 1 mission will last between 39 and 42 days, agency officials said. During that time, NASA will be able to evaluate how the Orion capsule is doing in space ahead of its first manned flight, Artemis 2, which is expected to launch in 2024.
Email Meghan Bartels at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @ meghanbartels . follow us on Twitter @ spacedotcom and further Facebook .