On Thursday afternoon in Florida (in Italy it was night), NASA launched a rocket Transfer From its massive new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), to the launch pad ahead of its first mission to return to lunar exploration with astronauts and astronauts.
The SLS is a thirty-story (98 m) tall building and has spent most of the past year inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), the large building of the Kennedy Space Center formerly used to assemble space shuttles. Even before Saturn V, the powerful rockets of the Apollo space program that brought humans to the Moon for the first time.
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NASA Earth Exploration Systems (NASAGroundSys) March 17, 2022
The transfer from the VAB to the launch pad can be considered a historic moment for the SLS, whose development in the past ten years has been turbulent to say the least, due to the many delays and increasing costs of its realization. The rocket was supposed to make its first flight in 2017, but the launch was gradually postponed due to technical problems, which led to additional costs.
Furthermore, it carries the SLS Orion, the transport capsule developed by NASA for the manned deep space exploration.
In the fall of 2021, NASA speculated that the inaugural launch would take place in February of this year, but plans were later modified. If all goes as planned, the SLS will remain on the launch pad for several weeks: at the beginning of April, NASA will conduct a kind of rehearsal, during which technicians will simulate most of the actions planned for launch day. Upon completion, the missile will be returned to the VAB for further testing, before being taken back abroad for its first launch, scheduled for launch in the summer (date not yet set).
The inaugural mission, called Artemis I, will have no crew on board and will be used to test the launch system and space capsule, on a flight around the Moon that will last between 4 to 6 weeks depending on our natural satellite’s position in relation to Earth at launch.
If Artemis I is successful, NASA will continue the Artemis II mission, the first manned on-board mission that will make a trip around the Moon, but without landing on the Moon. In the meantime, NASA will have to provide development for the missing Orion parts, new crew suits and verification that development activities are underway for the following missions, which will require the use of an orbiting lunar-to-moon transmission system.
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