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NASA’s giant moon rocket set for launch on August 29

NASA’s next-generation moon rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with its Orion crew capsule perched on top, leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on a slow-motion journey to its launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. August 16, 2022. Photo: Reuters

Prior to the behemoth’s first test flight this month, NASA’s enormous Space Launch System moon rocket, having an un-crewed astronaut capsule, started an hours-long journey to its launchpad on Tuesday night.

On August 29, the 98-meter-tall (322-foot) rocket will launch on its first journey into space without any humans. It will be a crucial, long-awaited demonstration trip to the moon for NASA’s Artemis programme, the United States’ multibillion-dollar effort to return humans to the lunar surface as practice for future missions to Mars.

According to Reuters, the Space Launch System, whose development during the past decade has been led by Boeing Co, emerged from its assembly building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at about 10 p.m. EDT (0200 GMT) on Tuesday and began a four-mile (6-kilometer) trek to its launchpad.

Moving at a speed of less than 1mph (1.6kph), the rollout will take approximately 11 hours.

Atop the rocket is NASA’s Orion astronaut capsule, built by Lockheed Martin Corp. It is designed to separate from the rocket in space, ferry humans toward the moon and rendezvous with a separate spacecraft that will take astronauts to the lunar surface.

The Orion capsule will launch from the Space Launch System on August 29 for the Artemis 1 mission and will orbit the moon without any humans aboard and land in the ocean 42 days later.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has backup launch dates for September 2 and September 5 in the event that poor launch weather or a minor technical issue causes a delay on August 29.

Writing by Muzha Kucha