NASA rolled out its largest-ever rocket to a Florida launch pad on Friday and will attempt to launch again in 10 days.
NASA rolled out its largest-ever rocket to a launch pad in Florida on Friday and will try again in 10 days to take off on a much-delayed unmanned mission to the moon.
After two launch attempts were canceled this summer due to technical problems, the rocket returned to the Vehicle Assembly Building to protect it from Hurricane Ian.
The US space agency used the time to make minor repairs and recharge the batteries that power the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket systems.
The four-mile journey of the SLS rocket from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39B took nearly nine hours, NASA said.
The 322 feet (98 meters) rocket was slowly rolled out on a giant platform known as the crawler transporter, designed to minimize vibration.
The next launch attempt is scheduled for 12:07 a.m. Eastern Time (0407 GMT) on Nov. 14 with backup dates on Nov. 16 at 1:04 a.m. and Nov. 19 at 1:45 a.m.
“We’re comfortable launching at night,” NASA employee Jim Free said at a briefing Thursday.
Free said radar and infrared camera images will provide the necessary data to monitor the missile’s performance.
If the missile fires on Nov. 16, the mission would last just over 25 days, with the crew pod crashing into the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 9.
The much-anticipated unmanned mission, dubbed Artemis 1, will bring the United States one step closer to returning astronauts to the moon, five decades after humans last walked on the lunar surface.
The purpose of Artemis 1, named after Apollo’s twin sister, is to test the SLS rocket and the Orion crew pod that sits atop.
Mannequins equipped with sensors will replace astronauts on the mission and will record acceleration, vibration and radiation levels.
The Orion capsule needs to orbit the moon to see if the ship will be safe from humans in the near future. At one point, Artemis wants to put a woman and a person of color on the moon for the first time.
And since humans have already visited the moon, Artemis has his sights set on another lofty goal: a manned mission to Mars.
During the journey, Orion will follow an elliptical orbit around the moon, within a radius of 100 kilometers at its closest approach and 40,000 miles at its farthest — the deepest in space ever seen by a craft designed to carry humans.