NASA’s most powerful rocket is poised to find its way to the launch pad ahead of its first launch on the Artemis 1 mission to the moon. The space agency rolls out the massive Space Launch System (SLS) to Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center Tuesday night, and the historic prelude to mankind’s return to the moon will be broadcast live. We’ll have to wait a bit longer for the big launch itself though, as the launch won’t happen until August 29th.
NASA’s live stream of the rollout begins Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. ET. You can follow the action on the NASA Kennedy YouTube Channel or in the feed below.
SLS is no stranger to the launch pad, having previously made the 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) route for a series of wet dress rehearsals it didn’t go so smoothly. Despite it some persistent problems that remained after the fourth rehearsal, NASA declared the SLS launch a failure.
The launch will represent Artemis 1, the first mission in NASA’s Artemis program aiming to bring humans back to the moon as early as 2026 and establish a sustained presence on and around Earth’s largest satellite. For its launch, the 100 meter high rocket will be fitted with an unscrewed Orion capsule at the top. The rocket will put the capsule into orbit; Orion will travel solo to lunar orbit, where it will make a close flyby before returning to Earth after 42 days in space. Artemis 1 is a test mission and marks the first integrated flight of SLS and Orion.
The mission is currently scheduled for August 29th at 8:33am ET, with backup windows available on September 2nd and September 5th. Artemis 2 is currently slated for late 2024, in which a crew will board the Orion capsule for the trip to the moon without landing on the surface. The main event is Artemis 3, which could happen in 2026 and in which NASA plans to land a man and a woman on the lunar surface.
The upcoming launch is set to attract a huge crowd, with more than 100,000 visitors expected to see the activity at Kennedy Space Center. Less than two weeks before its big debut, SLS will be (very) big on the well-known launch pad.