The sunrise casts a golden glow on the Artemis I Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft at Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 23, 2022. (NASA/Ben Smegelsky) CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA kicked off a critical countdown test Friday for its new moon rocket, a 30-story behemoth that could make its first lunar test flight by summer.The two-day demonstration — the final major milestone before liftoff to the moon — will culminate Sunday as teams load nearly 1 million gallons of super-cold fuel into the rocket on the pad.
The countdown will halt at the 9-second mark before engines ignite.NASA plans to set a launch date after analyzing the results of the dress rehearsal for the Space Launch System rocket — SLS for short.Officials have indicated the rocket could blast off as early as June, sending the attached Orion crew capsule hurtling toward the moon.
The capsule will spend at least a month in space before returning to Earth.No one will be on board for the first moonshot since NASA’s Apollo lunar landings a half-century ago.
Astronauts will strap in for the second test flight slated for 2024, looping around the moon and back. That would pave the way for astronauts landing on the moon around 2025, according to NASA.The U.S.