Nov 15, 2022 - Science

NASA set for next moonshot rocket launch Wednesday

The SLS rocket against a purple and gold sky

The SLS awaiting launch. Photo: NASA/Kim Shiflett

After multiple technical and weather delays, NASA is set to launch its Artemis I mission in the early hours of Wednesday morning on a trip to circle the Moon.

Why it matters: It will be the first launch of the huge Space Launch System rocket, which is a key component of the space agency's plans to one day return people to the surface of the Moon.

  • The Artemis I mission is expected to prove out many of the systems needed, including the rocket and Orion capsule designed to carry up to six people. The next flight after Wednesday's launch is slated to have people onboard.

How to watch: The SLS is expected to take flight from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 1:04am ET on Wednesday.

  • You can watch the launch live starting at 10:30pm ET on Tuesday via NASA TV.

Background: The mission has had plenty of starts and stops ahead of Wednesday's launch attempt.

  • Most recently, the multibillion-dollar SLS with Orion on top was hit by Hurricane Nicole after mission managers decided it would be too risky to roll the rocket back to its hangar ahead of the Category 1 storm.
  • The storm caused some minor damage, NASA said, but the space agency has decided to press ahead with the launch on Wednesday after evaluating risk and making repairs.
  • Technical delays and other weather concerns have also delayed the launch several times since the rocket was first set on the launchpad in late August.

The big picture: NASA hopes to use the SLS and Orion system to deliver people to the lunar surface as soon as 2025, but there's a long way to go until then.

  • Other technical hurdles — like new spacesuits and SpaceX's development of a lunar lander — also need to be cleared before astronauts make it back to the surface of the Moon.
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