NASA's new rocket in place for liftoff to the Moon in 12 days

NASA's new rocket in place for liftoff to the Moon in 12 days


The big day is approaching for NASA: the new giant American rocket SLS arrived on Wednesday morning at its launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida, before its scheduled takeoff to the Moon in twelve days. 

This mission will mark the very first flight of the great American program to return to the Moon, dubbed Artemis. 

Artemis 1 will take place without astronauts on board, as its purpose is to test the rocket and the capsule at its summit to ensure that they can transport a crew safely to the Moon, from 2024. 

The rocket, called SLS (for Space Launch System), has been in development for more than a decade and will become when it takes off the most powerful in the world. It is 98 meters high.

It was installed on the legendary 39B Firing Complex after a 10-hour overnight drive from the Assembly Building.

“To all of us who look up at the Moon, dreaming of the day when humanity will return to the lunar surface, friends, we are there, we are going back, “Nasa chief Bill Nelson told a press conference earlier this month. 

The Orion capsule will be propelled to the Moon, and even 64,000 km beyond, venturing farther than any other habitable spacecraft before it.

Upon its return to Earth's atmosphere , the heat shield will have to withstand a speed of nearly 40,000 km/h and a temperature half as hot as the surface of the Sun. 

Take off is scheduled to take place on August 29 at 08:33 local time. If the weather is not cooperative, fallback dates are September 2 or 5.

The mission should last 42 days in total, until a return to the Pacific Ocean, where the ship will be recovered thanks to a US Navy boat.

In 2024, the Artemis 2 mission will carry astronauts into orbit around the Moon, without landing there. This honor will be reserved for the crew of Artemis 3, a mission scheduled for 2025 at the earliest.

The last time that men went to the Moon dates back to Apollo 17, in 1972.

While the Apollo program only allowed white men to walk on the Moon, the Artemis program plans to send the first woman and the first person of color there.

The goal is to make the Moon a rear base where the technologies needed to send humans to Mars will be developed.