The new NASA rocket for moon missions has been brought to a launch pad for the first time. The huge SLS rocket left the assembly hall of the Kennedy Space Center in the US state of Florida on Thursday with a special transporter. NASA estimated eleven hours for the six-kilometer journey to launch pad 39B.
About 10,000 people gathered to watch the maneuver. “Ladies and gentlemen, here is the most powerful rocket ever,” Nasa boss Bill Nelson presented the SLS to the crowd. Together with an Orion space capsule, the rocket is 98 meters tall, taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York.
The rocket is scheduled to undergo a series of tests on the launch pad for about two weeks. Then a dress rehearsal of the processes before the rocket launch is planned. For this purpose, the rocket is to be refueled with three million liters of fuel on April 3rd, but the engines are not to be switched on. With the final draining of the fuel, a safe take-off abort should then be practiced.
NASA wants to use the giant SLS rockets and an Orion space capsule to bring astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972. The Artemis 1 mission is scheduled to start as a test flight to the moon in May at the earliest. Initially without a crew, it is to orbit the moon and then return to Earth. Astronauts are expected to orbit the moon with Artemis 2 in 2024.
Only Artemis 3 should then actually land with astronauts on the earth’s satellite in 2025. Nasa plans to put the first woman on the moon and build a space station to orbit the moon. NASA wants to test some technologies for the first Mars missions planned for the 2030s on the moon. According to NASA, the first four launches of the SLS rocket into space will each cost 4.1 billion dollars (3.7 billion euros).