NASA will return to the Moon: meet the SLS, the new rocket that will make a test flight on August 29 – Science

O Space Launch System (SLS), a rocket developed by NASA for the Artemis program, arrived at its launch pad this Wednesday, the 17th, less than two weeks before its maiden flight to Moon. The arrival of the nearly 100-meter rocket drew crowds of workers from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral — many of whom weren’t even born when the US space agency sent astronauts to NASA’s natural satellite. Earth half a century ago. NASA is planning a liftoff on August 29 to test the mission’s flight.

No one will be inside the crew capsule on top of the rocket, only three mannequins equipped with sensors to measure radiation and vibration. The capsule will fly around the moon for a few weeks, before heading back for a swim in the Pacific Ocean. The entire process is expected to take six weeks and is the first flight to the moon by the Artemis program, which seeks to establish a permanent human presence on the natural satellite.

The space agency plans a manned launch in two years and astronauts landing on the moon in 2025. That’s much later than predictions when the program was created more than a decade ago. Years of delays have added billions of dollars to the cost. “Now, for the first time since 1972, we will launch a rocket designed for deep space,” said NASA’s rocket program manager John Honeycutt.

The new SLS lunar rocket is 12 meters shorter than the Saturn V rockets used during the Apollo mission half a century ago. But it’s more powerful and features a center stage and dual boosters, similar to those used for the space shuttle. “When you look at the rocket, it looks retro. It looks like we’re looking at the Saturn V, but it’s something totally different, new, highly sophisticated,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said earlier this month.

Twenty-four astronauts flew to the moon during Apollo, and 12 of them made landings between 1969 and 1972. NASA wants a more diverse team on the Artemis mission, named after Apollo’s mythological twin. “I want to point out that this is a test flight,” Nelson said. “It’s just the beginning.”

This is the third time the rocket is on the launch pad. A countdown test in April was marred by fuel leaks and other equipment problems, which forced NASA to send it back for repairs. The process was repeated in June, with better results. (AP)

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