NASA plans to start rolling its Artemis 1 moon mission off the launch pad early Friday morning (July 1), and you can watch the slow-moving action live.
The Artemis 1 stack — a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket topped by an Orion crew capsule — is expected to depart Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida at midnight EDT (0400 GMT) on Friday. The duo will head toward KSC’s cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), making the 4-mile (6.4 kilometers) trip in 10 hours or so atop NASA’s enormous crawler-transporter 2 vehicle.
You can watch at least some parts of the rollback live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA. The agency will provide webcast coverage (opens in new tab) “of the rocket departing the launch pad and arrival at VAB,” NASA officials wrote in a recent update (opens in new tab).
Related: NASA’s Artemis 1 moon mission explained in photos
Artemis 1 recently wrapped up its “wet dress rehearsal,” a crucial series of tests and simulations designed to help determine a vehicle’s readiness for flight. This wet-dress success was hard-won; the Artemis 1 team first tried to notch the milestone in early April but were thwarted by several technical issues, including a stuck valve. Team members ended up rolling the stack back to the VAB for repairs on April 25, then sent it to the pad for another attempt earlier this month.
The latest try did not go perfectly smoothly — a hydrogen leak was discovered during fueling operations — but NASA officials deemed it good enough to start preparing Artemis 1 for liftoff.
Artemis 1 will send an uncrewed Orion on a roughly month-long journey around the moon. The mission team is apparently eyeing late August or early September for the liftoff, but an official target date won’t be set until SLS and Orion have been inspected fully back at the VAB.
As its name suggests, Artemis 1 is the first mission of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to establish a sustainable human presence on and around the moon by the end of the 2020s. If all goes well with Artemis 1, Artemis 2 will send a crewed Orion around the moon in 2024, and Artemis 3 will put astronauts down near the lunar south pole about two years later.
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