NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket will head back to the launch pad once again early Friday morning (Nov. 4), and you’ll be able to watch the slow-moving action live.
The Artemis 1 stack — a huge Space Launch System (SLS) rocket topped with an Orion spacecraft — is scheduled to roll out from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida at 12:01 a.m. EDT (0401 GMT) on Friday.
Artemis 1 will head toward KSC’s Pad 39B, the jumping-off point for the mission, which is targeting a launch on Nov. 14. The 4-mile (6.4 kilometers) trek, made atop NASA’s giant crawler transporter-2 vehicle, is expected to take about 10 hours.
NASA will livestream at least some of this long journey, if past Artemis 1 rollouts are any guide. Space.com will air that webcast, courtesy of the space agency.
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This will be Artemis 1’s fourth trip from the VAB to Pad 39A. The rocket made the trek in both March and June to conduct prelaunch fueling tests, then went back out again in mid-August for an attempted liftoff.
Glitches foiled planned launch tries in late August and early September, and NASA then returned Artemis 1 to the VAB in late September to shelter from Hurricane Ian.
Mission team members have used this latest stint in the VAB to perform some minor repair and maintenance work, along with a series to tests to ensure that Artemis 1 is ready to fly.
Artemis 1 is the first mission in NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to establish a permanent, sustainable human presence on and around the moon by the late 2020s.
Artemis 1 will be the first flight for the SLS and the second for Orion. It will send the uncrewed capsule on a roughly monthlong shakeout cruise to lunar orbit and back. If all goes well, Artemis 2 will launch astronauts around the moon in 2024 or so, and Artemis 3 will put boots down near the lunar south pole a year or two later.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).