NASA’s Artemis I lunar rocket returns to launch pad at Kennedy Space Center

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA sent the Artemis I rocket back to the Kennedy Space Center launch pad for testing later this month, to be back on track for a potential moon launch as early as August.

The 2,608-tonne, 98.15-meter-high rocket, consisting of the Space Launch System, Orion capsule, and mobile launcher, left the Kennedy Space Center Assembly Building on Monday to slowly crawl 7 kilometers to Launch Pad 39-B.

The rocket must go through a dress rehearsal during which NASA will fill and drain the core and upper stage with 730,000 gallons of supercooled liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, and simulate a countdown, but without starting the engines.

The rocket was first taken to the launch site back in March, but due to a number of problems, three test launch attempts failed, and the rocket was forced to return to the assembly building, but now the mission leaders hope that the headache is over.

Officials said a retest is scheduled for June 19. The rocket will have to return once more to the assembly building before finally being transported to the launch pad for ascent, which could take place during the first available launch window, up to August 10th.

Other possible windows are 23 August to 6 September, 20 September to 4 October, 17 to 31 October, 12 to 27 November and 9 to 23 December. In each window, there are only certain days during which the Earth and Moon are in the correct position for the planned mission.

This flight is the first of three planned Artemis flights, the first time the rocket will fly around the moon without a crew.

Artemis II, with astronauts aboard, will not circle the Moon before May 2024, while Artemis III, aimed at 2025, plans to return humans to the lunar surface. For the first time since 1972, the crew will include a woman.

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