Fans of slow TV will be treated tonight as NASA begins wheeling its next-generation moon rocket to the launchpad for testing in preparation for a lunar mission in the coming months.
The 332-foot (98.1-meter) Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft will be transported over a four-mile journey from the Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building to the launchpad by a massive low-slung transporter. The process is predicted to take between 8 and 12 hours if the speed is limited to 1 mph.
In March, the new lunar rocket and spacecraft were rolled to the launchpad for the first time. However, the ensuing wet dress rehearsal, which consisted of filling the rocket’s tanks with fuel and completing a simulated countdown, revealed a number of mechanical faults, forcing engineers to return the rocket to the Vehicle Assembly Building for repairs
These concerns have already been resolved, allowing the rocket to return to the launchpad. The second attempt at the wet dress rehearsal is scheduled to begin in around two weeks.
You can watch the live stream by clicking on the video player at the top of this page or by going to NASA’s website, which will display the same footage. If you want to view the rocket in daylight, start the game when you wake up on Monday morning, when the rocket should be near to reaching the launchpad.
Assuming the wet dress rehearsal goes as planned, NASA will launch the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft on an uncrewed flyby of the moon in the Artemis I mission, marking the system’s first full flight test. The mission has no definite start date, but it is expected to begin within the next few months.
Following that, NASA will launch Artemis II, which will send the rocket and spacecraft on the same trajectory as before, but with a crew on board.
If that mission goes smoothly, Artemis III will employ SLS and Orion to place the first woman and first person of colour on the moon’s surface in the first crewed moon landing since the last Apollo flight in 1972. Artemis III is expected to take place no early than 2025.