A serene new NASA photo has captured two spacecraft at twilight, one in orbit and one on Earth, as the agency tested its new Artemis 1 moon rocket.
The photo, taken by photographer Joel Kowsky, shows the agency’s Artemis 1 moon rocket — the first Space Launch System booster — as it stood on Launch Pad 39B of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 8. Overhead, a dim streak in the sky is the International Space Station, which orbits 260 miles (418 km) above Earth.
Kowsky snapped the photo using a 30-second exposure and a Nikon D6 camera, according a a NASA photo description. The SLS rocket is a a bit difficult to discern in the image as it’s partially obscured by the overexposed floodlights of its launch pad, but the stunning twilight colors ranging from deep pink-orange to the black of night more than make up for it.
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NASA rolled the SLS rocket to the launch pad in March for a critical countdown and fueling test known as a “wet dress rehearsal” ahead of the planned Artemis 1 mission to the moon later this year. The test began on April 1 but has not gone smoothly.
NASA has attempted to fuel the rocket three separate times, only to call off each try due to technical issues. A faulty valve on the Artemis 1 stack’s launch tower is the cause of the latest delay.
The Artemis 1 mission is an uncrewed test flight that will launch an Orion spacecraft filled with experiments and mannequins around the moon. If the flight goes well, NASA will launch the first astronauts on an SLS rocket in 2024 on the Artemis 2 mission, which will also fly around the moon. The next mission, Artemis 3, will carry astronauts to land near the moon’s south pole in 2025 or 2026, NASA has said.