CAPE CANAVERAL: On Monday, NASA’s enormous next-generation rocketship was scheduled to launch for the first time, embarking on an unmanned, six-week test mission around the moon and back.During a two-hour launch window beginning at 8:33 am EDT, the 32-story-tall Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and its Orion crew capsule were scheduled to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida (1233 GMT).
The mission Artemis I, the SLS-initial Orion’s flight, is intended to put the 5.75 million pound craft through its paces in a difficult demonstration flight and push its design envelopes before NASA deems the SLS-Orion is reliable enough to transport astronauts.
Since the Saturn V flew during the Apollo lunar missions in the 1960s and 1970s, the US space agency has only developed the SLS, which is the largest modern vertical launch system. It is advertised as the most sophisticated and potent rocket in the world.
After weeks of last-minute preparations and ground tests, the spacecraft was gently towed to historic Launch Pad 39B earlier this month.Any hint that a newly repaired hydrogen line fitting failed to hold during rocket fueling was noted last week by NASA officials as a potential launch-delaying factor for Monday.