The Artemis 1 stack is a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket capped by an Orion crew capsule which departed from Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre (KSC) in Florida at 4:12 a.m. EDT on Saturday.
“The duo made it to KSC’s cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) by around 2:30 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT), completing the 4-mile (6.4 kilometers) trek atop NASA’s enormous crawler-transporter 2 vehicle in a little over 10 hours” agency officials announced in a blog post.
Artemis 1 recently finished its “wet dress rehearsal,” an essential series of trials and simulations to help assume a vehicle’s readiness for flight. The latest attempt did not go flawlessly. A Hydrogen leak was spotted during fueling operations, yet NASA officials considered it good enough to begin preparing Artemis 1 for launch.
Artemis 1 will send an uncrewed Orion on a month-long trip around the moon. The mission team is planning for the liftoff in August or September. However, an official target date won’t be fixed until SLS and Orion have been thoroughly examined back at the VAB.
Artemis 1 is the first mission of NASA’s Artemis program, which intends to establish a long-term human existence on and around the moon by the end of the 2020s. If everything goes well with Artemis 1, Artemis 2 will carry a crewed Orion around the moon in 2024, and Artemis 3 will land astronauts close to the lunar south pole about two years later.