For decades, the Moon has been left somewhat neglected with NASA and other space agencies focusing on Mars and beyond.
That’s starting to change. NASA plans on launching the uncrewed lunar mission Artemis I in February 2022. It is the first in a series of complex missions — in 2024, a later Artemis mission will bring people back to the Moon.
The Space Launch System is the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built. It’s intended to replace the Space Shuttle as the agency’s primary deep-space vehicle.
The first SLS mission to the Moon came one step closer to reality on October 20, 2021 when the entire rocket was fully stacked at Kennedy Space Center.
For the first time, the Orion spacecraft is attached to the rocket. Eventually, it will launch atop the SLS rocket and be used for deep-space missions.
Now that it’s assembled, the mega Moon rocket can undergo a final round of tests to ensure that its different components can communicate with each other and with ground control.
That’s vital to make sure Artemis II can safely carry its crew to the far side of the Moon and back.
SLS is the most powerful rocket ever built by NASA. It has enough power to carry a crewed Orion spacecraft and the cargo needed for a mission with a single launch.
Artemis is intended to establish a permanent Moon base, giving astronauts a foothold for lunar exploration and for missions headed even further into space.
The knowledge gained with Artemis will be used for an even bolder endeavor — sending humans on a three-year trip to Mars in the 2030s.