NASA plans to launch its Artemis 1 lunar mission off the launch pad on Friday evening (July 1), and you can watch the slow-motion action live.
The Artemis stack 1 — one Space Launch System (SLS) topped by an Orion crew capsule – is scheduled to take off from Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida at 6:00 p.m. EDT Friday (2200 GMT), pending good weather. The duo will head to KSC’s cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), making the 6.4 kilometer (4 mile) trip in eight to 12 hours to the top of the massive crawler vehicle 2.
You can watch at least parts of the restoration live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA. The agency will provide webcast coverage (opens in a new tab) “of the rocket leaving the launch pad and arriving at the VAB,” NASA officials wrote in a recent update (opens in a new tab).
Related: NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar mission explained in photos
Artemis 1 recently completed its “wet rehearsal,” a crucial series of tests and simulations designed to help determine a vehicle’s readiness for flight. This wet dress success was hard earned; the Artemis 1 team first attempted to make the leap in early April but were thwarted by several technical issues, including a blocked valve. Team members ended up bringing the pile back to VAB for repair on April 25, then sent it to the pad for another attempt earlier this month.
The last attempt did not go perfectly – a hydrogen leak was discovered during refueling operations – but NASA officials considered good enough to begin preparing Artemis 1 for liftoff.
Artemis 1 will send an unmanned Orion on a journey of about a month around the moon. The mission team is apparently looking at late August or early September for liftoff, but an official target date won’t be set until SLS and Orion have been fully inspected at VAB.
As its name suggests, Artemis 1 is NASA’s first mission Artemis programwhich aims to establish a sustainable human presence on and around the Moon by the end of the 2020s. If all goes well with Artemis 1, Artemis 2 will send a crew Orion around the moon in 2024, and Artemis 3 will drop off astronauts near the lunar south pole about two years later.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:15 p.m. EDT on June 30 with the new estimated restoration start time of 8 p.m. EDT. Nasa advanced four hour restoration (opens in a new tab) due to expected bad weather overnight. The story was updated again at 7:20 p.m. EDT on June 30 with the most recent estimated flashback time at 6:00 p.m. EDT on July 1. at the VAB,” NASA officials said via Twitter (opens in a new tab).
Mike Wall is the author of “The low (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Or on Facebook (opens in a new tab).