The destination for NASA’s Artemis 1 mission looks big and bright in stunning new photos from the agency taken Tuesday (June 14).
In the new images, the full moon looms large behind Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In the foreground is the agency’s first Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket, which is scheduled to launch the uncrewed Artemis 1 mission around the moon later this year.
June’s full moon was a stunning sight this year, delighting skywatchers around the world who captured countless photos of the sight of what was nicknamed the Strawberry Supermoon.
NASA rolled the rocket to the pad on June 6 and has been streaming live views ever since on the KSC Newsroom YouTube (opens in new tab) channel. The roll-out came in preparation for the SLS rocket’s Artemis 1 fueling test, a crucial milestone NASA is tackling this weekend. If all goes to plan, Artemis 1 will launch an uncrewed Orion spacecraft around the moon to test the system for future human missions.
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NASA is hoping for better success with the wet dress rehearsal this time, after several attempts in April didn’t go according to plan. The agency was unable to fully complete the procedure due to issues loading fuel into the rocket’s Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage. The SLS megarocket was rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for several fixes addressing hydrogen leaks.
NASA says that all issues should be addressed and the wet dress rehearsal should proceed on Saturday (June 18). If all goes well, NASA will fully fuel the Artemis 1 moon rocket on June 20.
As for the supermoon, the June full moon is dubbed the Strawberry Moon because it rises during the strawberry harvesting season in Europe and North America. Supermoons are so named because they occur when the moon is at its closest point to the Earth in its slightly elliptical orbit around our planet.
In 2022, the June and July full moons are supermoons, according to NASA. Eclipse scientist Fred Espenak, who also tracks supermoons, said June’s full moon was the second in a series of four back-to-back supermoons from May to August.