NASA’s Artemis I rocket is heading to the launch pad once again

Will SLS finally soon take flight?
Chris Young
SLS atop Crawler Transporter-2.NASA/Glenn Benson

It's not a trip to the moon, but the Space Launch System's (SLS) journey from the assembly building to the launch pad is still pretty epic.

NASA's moon-bound Artemis I rocket, SLS, began its journey to the launch pad from Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at 12:10 a.m. EDT today, June 6, and video of the rollout can be streamed online.

On the fourth time of asking, NASA aims to successfully carry out a wet dress rehearsal on its Space Launch System when it reaches launch pad 39B.

How to watch Artemis I's rollout to the launchpad

Any space fans desperate to see the tiniest bit of SLS action after numerous delays can live stream the rollout of SLS on the Kennedy Newsroom channel (viewable below).

It is worth noting that the rollout to the launchpad is a prolonged and not very action-packed process, with NASA's 2.9-million-kilogram Crawler-Transporter 2 carrying SLS 4.4 miles at a speed of less than 1 mph to the launch pad. Still, it's impressive to see SLS live as it slowly approaches its first launch.

If all goes to plan with the Artemis I wet dress rehearsal, NASA will be able to finally launch its uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a trip around the moon. Artemis II, SLS's first crewed mission, will carry out the same trip but with astronauts aboard. NASA has then opted to use a SpaceX Starship launch vehicle for Artemis III, which will send astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972 around the year 2025.

When will Artemis I launch?

NASA has faced many delays on its Artemis I launch schedule. The first and second wet dress rehearsal attempts were delayed by pressure and valve issues, after which NASA decided to roll SLS back to the VAB. A gaseous nitrogen shortage scuppered plans for the third rehearsal attempt. 

The goal of the wet dress rehearsal is to fill the core and upper stage with 730,000 gallons of super-cooled liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen before performing a simulated countdown without igniting the engines. 

NASA chief Bill Nelson has said the U.S. space agency is aiming for an August launch attempt for SLS, with a potential launch window of July 26-August 10. NASA has set five different launch windows, with the last one taking place between December 9-23 later this year. All of that means the summer is shaping up to be a busy time for spaceflight, as SpaceX's Starship could also perform its maiden orbital flight around the same time. 

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