Photos show NASA rolling its new lunar mega-rocket onto the launch pad for its first lunar flight

Photos show NASA rolling its new lunar mega-rocket onto the launch pad for its first lunar flight

NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft on board is seen atop a mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B, Wednesday, Aug. at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The SLS rocket atop a mobile launcher on Launch Pad 39B on August 17, 2022 after being launched from the launch pad.NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA’s powerful new Space Launch System lunar rocket arrived at the launch pad on Tuesday, ready to fly its first mission to the moon.

Taller than the Statue of Liberty and crowned with an Orion spacecraft, the 23-story rocket was hoisted atop a tracker and rolled 4 miles in the dark to Launch Pad 39B.

vertical rocket comes out of the door of a tall building the garage door closes behind him

NASA’s Space Launch System leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on August 16, 2022.NASA/Frank Michaux and Kim Shiflett

The tracker made its journey at a glacial pace of approximately 1 to 2 miles per hour, and the hike took more than 10 hours, starting around 10 pm ET, after technicians waited for a lightning storm to pass.

tall orange rocket attached to the vertical scaffold tower on top of the rolling platform emerges from the tall assembly building

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, with the Orion spacecraft aboard, sits atop a mobile launcher and leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, Aug. 16, 2022.NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA built the SLS to re-establish its presence on the moon. The rocket is the cornerstone of the agency’s new Artemis program, which aims to establish permanent bases in the moon’s orbit and on its surface, paving the way to eventually send astronauts to Mars.

dozens of people standing on grass, sitting on lawn chairs, watch vertical rockets roll from a tall building at night

NASA guests and staff watch the launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket from the Vehicle Assembly Building on August 16, 2022.NASA/Joel Kowsky

To boost the program, NASA has set an ambitious goal of landing astronauts on the Moon by 2025, putting boots on the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.

The rocket is set to roar to life and scream across the Florida skies as soon as August 29, pushing an unmanned Orion spacecraft towards the moon for the first time.

It took more than ten hours for the rocket to reach the launch pad.

It took more than ten hours for the rocket to reach the launch pad on 17 August.NASA/Joel Kowsky

If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft should make a grand loop around the moon and back, crashing to an ocean landing on October 10.

Artemis I is a test. Before putting astronauts on board, NASA needs to prove that the SLS and Orion can do the job.

Wide shot shows distant rocket rolling away from its assembly building

SLS (left) descends the runway away from the Vehicle Assembly Building (right), August 16, 2022.NASA/Joel Kowsky

Four car-sized engines and two rocket boosters should give the rocket enough thrust to push Orion across the moon – traveling farther into deep space than any spacecraft made for human passengers has ever traveled.

Although this Orion capsule has no one on board, Artemis I will test the rocket and spacecraft’s capabilities to transport astronauts on the more than 250,000 mile journey to the moon.

NASA's Space Launch System rocket launches from Launch Pad 39B on August 17, 2022 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The lunar rocket is rolled up onto the ramp and arrives at Launch Pad 39B on August 17.NASA/Joel Kowsky

“This is now the Artemis generation,” Bill Nelson, NASA administrator, said at an Aug. 3 press conference. “We were in the Apollo generation, but this is a new generation, this is a new kind of astronaut. And for all of us who look up to the moon, dreaming of the day when humanity returns to the lunar surface, folks, we are here. We are going back and this journey, our journey, begins with Artemis I.

illustration shows orange rocket from space launch system taking off

An illustration of the Space Launch System taking off from the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida.NASA

If the spacecraft successfully completes its mission, the next flight, called Artemis II, will send four astronauts on the same lunar roundabout. Then Artemis III would take the astronauts into lunar orbit and dock on a SpaceX spacecraft, which would land them on the moon’s surface.

This is just the beginning of NASA’s planned Artemis program. Eventually, NASA plans to launch astronauts from the Moon to Mars.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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