The SLS rocket officially sits on the launch pad, preparing for the final test before the lunar mission

At 5:47 pm EST on March 17th, the doors of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) of the Kennedy Space Center opened, and NASA was preparing to send the next batch of astronauts to the moon. The huge SLS rocket combined with the Orion spacecraft for the first time outdoors. Fully unveiled, slowly moving for 11 hours and settling into launch pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center.

The new generation of super-heavy launch vehicle “Space Launch System (SLS)” will be responsible for NASA’s most ambitious series of missions to date, one of which is this summer, the SLS rocket with a total length of more than 100 meters combined with the Orion spacecraft, will carry out a Artemis 1 (Artemis 1) is an unmanned mission to orbit the moon. After the Orion spacecraft is put into orbit, the spacecraft will not dock with the International Space Station but go directly to the moon, and finally enter the Earth-moon distance retrograde about 70,000 kilometers away from the lunar surface. Orbit (Distant Retrograde Orbit, DRO), orbiting the moon for 6 days and returning to Earth.

If the Artemis 1 mission is a success, the subsequent Artemis 2 mission will send astronauts to orbit the moon in the Orion spacecraft, and Artemis 3 will take astronauts to a foothold since 1972. The lunar surface (where SpaceX’s manned landing system will be involved in this mission).

In order to complete the Artemis 1 mission, the SLS rocket needs a lot of propulsion – the Block 1 version configuration will provide 8.8 million pounds of thrust at launch, about 8.8 million pounds more than the most powerful Saturn V rocket of the past. 15%.

At 4:15 a.m. ET on March 18, the complete SLS rocket arrived at Kennedy Space Center’s 39B launch pad, which will take a month to complete the wet exercise, including filling the storage tank with more than 700,000 gallons of cryogenic propellant (liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen), start the countdown phase (but stop before ignition), then return to the aircraft assembly building to recheck any problems arising from the exercise process, and finally return to the launch pad a week before the official launch.

The debut is a key step toward a mission to the moon, testing the carrying capabilities of the world’s most powerful rocket (before Starships) and the Orion spacecraft. According to the test data generated by the wet exercise, which can help NASA to determine the final launch date more specifically, Artemis 1 is likely to be launched from May to July this year.

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