NASA’s most powerful rocket is ready to make its way to the launch pad before its inaugural launch as part of the Artemis 1 mission to the Moon. The space agency is rolling out the enormous Space Launch System (SLS) to Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday evening, and the historic kickoff to humanity’s return to the Moon will all be streamed live. We’ll have to wait a little longer for the big launch itself, however, as liftoff won’t happen before August 29.
NASA’s live stream of the rollout starts at 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday. You can watch the action on the NASA Kennedy YouTube channel or at the feed below.
SLS is no stranger to the launch pad, having made the 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) trek before for a series of wet dress rehearsals that didn’t exactly go smoothly. Despite some lingering issues that remained after the fourth rehearsal, NASA declared the SLS launch a go.
The launch will represent Artemis 1, the first mission in NASA’s Artemis program that aims to return humans to the Moon as early as 2026 and to establish a sustainable presence on and around Earth’s largest satellite. For its launch, the 322-foot-tall rocket will be outfitted with an uncrewed Orion capsule on top. The rocket will boost the capsule to orbit; Orion will travel on its own to lunar orbit, where it will make a close flyby before returning to Earth after 42 days in space. Artemis 1 is a test mission, marking the first integrated flight of SLS and Orion.
The mission is currently slated for August 29 at 8:33 a.m. ET, with backup windows available on September 2 and September 5. Artemis 2 is currently scheduled for late 2024, in which a crew will ride aboard the Orion capsule for the trip to the Moon, without landing on the surface. The main event is Artemis 3, which could take place in 2026, in which NASA plans to land a man and a woman on the lunar surface.
The upcoming launch is set to draw a huge crowd, with more than 100,000 visitors expected to view the activity at Kennedy Space Center. With less than two weeks to go before its big debut, SLS will stand (very) tall atop the familiar launchpad.