NASA Fires SLS Rocket to Launch Pad 10 Days Ahead of Artemis Launch

NASA launched its largest rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), from a launch pad in Florida on Friday and will try again 10 days from now to blast off the much-delayed unmanned Artemis I mission to the Moon.

After two relaunch attempts this summer due to technical issues, the rocket returned to the Auto Assembly Building to protect it from Hurricane Ian.

The US space agency used the time to make minor repairs and recharge the batteries that power the systems on the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

The SLS rocket’s four-mile (six-kilometer) trip from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39B took about nine hours, NASA said.

The 322-foot (98-meter) rocket slowly emerged from a giant crawler-transporter designed to reduce vibration.

The next launch attempt is scheduled for 12:07am Eastern Time (09:37am IST) on November 14 with backup dates on November 16 at 1:04am ET (10:34am IST) and November 19 at 1:45am ET (11:15am ET) ist).

“We are free to launch at night,” said NASA administrator Jim Free said at the same forum on Thursday.

A free-standing radar and infrared camera image will provide the data needed to track the rocket’s performance.

If the rocket explodes on November 16, the mission will last a little more than 25 days when the crew capsule splashes down on the Pacific Ocean on December 9.

The much-anticipated mission, called Artemis 1, will bring the United States closer to returning astronauts to the Moon fifty years after humans last walked on the lunar surface.

The mission of Artemis 1, named after Apollo’s twin, is to test the SLS rocket with the Orion crew capsule aboard.

Mannequins equipped with sensors represent the astronauts on the mission and will record acceleration, vibration and radiation levels.

The Orion capsule is to orbit the Moon to see if the spacecraft is safe for humans in the near future. At one point, Artemis intended to put a woman and a colored person on the Moon for the first time.

And since humans have already visited the Moon, Artemis is focused on another lofty goal: a manned mission to Mars.

During the trip, Orion will follow an elliptical course around the Moon, coming within 60 miles (100 kilometers) of its closest approach and 40,000 miles away at its furthest — the deepest in space ever operated by a spacecraft designed to carry humans.

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