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NASA’s Artemis I moon rocket ready for another launch attempt

NASA gears up for another attempt to get the Artemis I mission off the ground.

After several repairs amid reports of fuel leaks, NASA’s Artemis I megamoon rocket is back at the launch pad Friday (local time) ahead of its third launch attempt, officials said.

The space agency gears up for another attempt to get the Artemis I mission off the ground. The unmanned test mission is scheduled for Nov. 14, with a 69-minute launch window opening at 12:07 p.m. ET. The launch will be streamed live on NASA’s website, CNN reported.

Fuel leaks have kept the rocket grounded since August. The missile had been put away for weeks after fuel leak issues that thwarted the first two launch attempts, then Hurricane Ian rolled through Florida, forcing the missile to leave the launch pad and head for safety.

The Space Launch System rocket began the hour-long process of trekking 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) from its covered shelter to Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida late Thursday night. It arrived at its destination nearly 9 hours later, CNN reported.

The Artemis team is again monitoring a storm that could head toward Florida, but officials were confident to proceed with the rollout, according to Jim Free, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate.

The unnamed storm could develop near Puerto Rico over the weekend and will slowly move northwest early next week, said meteorologist Mark Burger, the U.S. Air Force launch weather officer at Cape Canaveral.

It is NASA’s most important step to get astronauts back on the moon by 2025. The space agency is approaching the 50th anniversary of its last human moon landing: Apollo 17 in December 1972.

The Artemis I mission is expected to pave the way for other missions to the moon. After takeoff, the Orion capsule, which is designed to carry astronauts and sits on top of the rocket during takeoff, will disintegrate as it reaches space.

It will fly empty for this mission, save for a few mannequins. The Orion capsule will maneuver to the moon for a few days before entering orbit and starting its journey home days later, CNN reported.

In total, the mission is expected to last 25 days, with the Orion capsule landing in the Pacific Ocean near San Diego on December 9.

The purpose of the trip is to collect data and test the hardware, navigation and other systems to ensure that both the SLS rocket and Orion capsule are ready to accommodate astronauts. The Artemis program aims to land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface this decade.

The Artemis II mission, scheduled for 2024, is expected to follow a similar flight path around the moon and have a crew on board. And in 2025, Artemis III is expected to land astronauts on the lunar surface for the first time since NASA’s Apollo program.

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