The huge rocket of the Artemis I mission will be placed on its launch pad at Cape Canaveral (Florida, USA) on Tuesday, that is, earlier than initially planned by NASA, ahead of takeoff on August 29, The US space agency reported this Monday.
The so-called Space Launch System (SLS), the 212-foot (64-meter) tall rocket that will be used in this program, will leave for pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday night, local time (01:00 GMT on Wednesday).
Initially, the US agency had scheduled this transfer prior to the launch of this unmanned mission for Thursday.
As reported by NASA on Monday, engineers and technicians have successfully completed the latest tests over the weekend with a view to starting the slow transport of the rocket with the Orion spacecraft at its cusp on Tuesday night.
The journey from the Florida space center’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to the launch pad is just 4 miles (6.4 kilometers), but the operation in which the SLS and spacecraft Orion will be transported on top of a giant dolly for about 12 hours.
Tuesday’s will be the third trip to the platform made by the rocket, after the previous trips made in March and June of this year as a result of fuel tank filling tests and countdowns.
In June, technicians discovered a hydrogen leak in the rocket that prompted new reviews.
The US space agency maintains for August 29 the first takeoff attempt of that mission, which will travel to the Moon, orbit it and then return to Earth about 40 days after being put into orbit.
In case of setbacks, NASA manages the next September 2 and 5 as possible new launch dates for Artemis I.
It is expected that in 2024 the Artemis II mission will make the same route but already with a crew on board, while in 2025 NASA plans to take astronauts to the Moon with Artemis III, the first NASA mission to carry humans to the Earth satellite since more than half a century ago.
The last mission in which NASA astronauts set foot on the Moon was Apollo 17, which took place between December 7 and 19, 1972.