NASA’s Artemis 1 Megarocket Rolls Back to Launch Pad for Moon Mission

NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket headed back to the launch pad Tuesday night (Aug. 19) to take a step closer to a historic lunar mission.

Artemis 1 is an uncrewed test flight of the massive Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket and its Orion spacecraft, and it began rolling out to a Kennedy Space Center launch pad around 10 p.m. EDT (0200 GMT Wednesday, Aug. 17). It had arrived at its destination by 7:30 a.m. EDT.

The Orion, stacked atop the rocket, began its 10-hour journey from the KSC’s Vehicle Assembly Building. The crawler transporting the Artemis 1 hardware had to travel at 1 to 2 miles per hour to Launch Pad 39B. (1.6 to 3.2 km/h).

NASA chose to launch the rocket two days earlier than planned. The team completed flight termination system testing, the last major activity required before the rocket was closed out and the final access platforms at the VAB were retracted, according to the agency’s Artemis blog.

NASA has not provided a detailed schedule for the rollout, which is expected to take between 8 and 11 hours depending on weather, road conditions, and other technical issues.

The uncrewed mission’s blastoff is scheduled for no earlier than August 29, and will take the Orion spacecraft around the moon to test the vehicle’s system for future human missions. There will be several webcasts of the science and other technology on board the mission in between.

NASA hopes to launch an Artemis 2 mission to orbit the moon with humans on board as early as 2024, followed by an Artemis 3 landing mission in 2025.

READ MORE: A Ground-Based Radio Telescope Captured The Landing Site of American Astronauts on The Moon

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