The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) giant new Space Launch System moon rocket was rolled out to a Kennedy Space Center launch pad on Wednesday in Cape Canaveral. The Artemis 1 moon rocket arrived at its launchpad in Cape Canaveral almost two weeks ahead f its scheduled launch on August 29.
It will be the maiden flight of the Artemis programme, which is America's space programme to return humans to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo mission in 1972. Notably, the Artemis 1 mission is an uncrewed test flight of the huge Space Launch System mega-rocket and its Orion spacecraft.
The Orion is stacked atop the rocket. The Artemis 1 began the rollout to Launch Pad 39B at around 9 pm EDT and reached its destination at around 7 am EDT on Wednesday. It took more than 10 hours to complete its journey to the launchpad.
The rocket will propel the Orion crew capsule into orbit around the Moon. According to reports, the spacecraft will remain in space for almost 42 days before returning to Earth. From 2024, astronauts will start travelling aboard Orion to reach the Moon.
It took more than a decade to develop the rocket. "To all of us that gaze up at the Moon, dreaming of the day humankind returns to the lunar surface, folks, we're here. We are going back," NASA administrator Bill Nelson said earlier this month as quoted by AFP.
According to reports, the Orion capsule will fly to the Moon and 64,000 kilometres beyond it. The Artemis 1 will be launched on August 29 at 8:33 am. Meanwhile, September 2 and 5 are kept as backup dates, in case the launch is postponed due to bad weather.