Artemis 1 moon rocket arrives at pad for Nov. 14 launch (photos)

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NASA’s massive moon mission is back at the pad for its departure from Earth.

The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket topped with an Orion spacecraft rolled out from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida a little before midnight EDT (0400 GMT) on Friday (Nov. 4).

The slow-motion crawl to Launch Pad 39B concluded at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) and the stack is being integrated on to the pad, NASA officials tweeted (opens in new tab) Friday after the arrival.

Artemis 1 is scheduled for a Nov. 14 launch date to the moon after numerous attempts before. NASA officials said in a pre-rollout press conference Wednesday (Nov. 13) that they have overcome the glitches that plagued previous attempts.

Related: NASA’s Artemis 1 moon mission: Live updates
More: NASA’s Artemis 1 moon mission explained in photos 

“If we weren’t confident, we wouldn’t roll out. If we weren’t confident, we wouldn’t start the countdown when we do so. We’re confident moving forward,” said Jim Free, associate administrator of the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C, at the press conference.

Artemis 1 has now concluded its fourth journey to the pad, after having made excursions in March and June for prelaunch fueling tests and a third one in mid-August to try to head to space. Various issues with past launches prevented it from making it to the moon, and the stack last returned to the VAB in late September to shelter from Hurricane Ian and for minor maintenance, repairs and tests.

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Artemis 1 is the first mission in NASA’s Artemis program, which plans to put humans permanently and sustainably on the moon by the late 2020s.

The mission will be the first flight for the SLS and the second for Orion, with Artemis 1 putting an uncrewed spacecraft around the moon and back. If all goes well, Artemis 2 will launch astronauts around the moon in 2024 or so, and Artemis 3 will send astronauts to the surface for a landing mission after another year or two.

Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of “Why Am I Taller (opens in new tab)?” (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).


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