The big day is drawing near NASA: The new American giant SLS rocket arrived this Wednesday morning at its launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida, before takeoff to Luna scheduled in 12 days.
The mission will mark the first flight of the US program to return to the Moon, named Artemis.
Artemis 1 will be performed no astronauts on board, because its objective is to test the rocket and Orion capsulelocated at its top, to ensure that they can safely transport a crew to the Moon, which is scheduled to happen from 2024.
The rocket, called SLS (for Space Launch System), has been in development for over a decade and will become the most powerful in the world when it lifts off. It is 98 meters high.
It was installed on the legendary platform 39B after a 10-hour overnight transfer from the assembly hangar, in the same complex as the Kennedy Space Center.
“To all of us who gaze at the moon and dream of the day humanity returns to the lunar surface, friends, here we are, here we go again,” NASA chief Bill Nelson said at a news conference.
The Orion spacecraft will be propelled into the Lunaand even 64,000 km beyond, venturing farther than any other crewable spacecraft ever did.
On its return to the earth’s atmosphere, the heat shield it has will have to withstand a speed of almost 40,000 km/h and half the temperature of the sun surface.
Takeoff is scheduled for August 29 at 08:33 local time. If the weather is not favorable, the reservation dates are September 2 or 5.
The mission should last 42 days in total, until the return and descent into the Pacific Ocean, where the spacecraft will be recovered by a US Navy ship.
In 2024, the mission Artemis 2 it will take astronauts to orbit the Moon, without landing on it. This honor will be reserved for the crew of Artemis 3, a mission that will take place in 2025 at the earliest.
The last time humans landed on the Moon was on the mission Apollo 17 in 1972.
The Apollo program made only white men walk on the Moon, but Artemis plans to send the first woman and the first black person.
The goal is to make the Moon a base where the technologies needed to send humans to Mars are developed.