The Space Launch System is the most powerful rocket
has ever built, and it's meant to launch spacecraft and astronauts to the moon as part of the Artemis program. We have our first look at the whole shebang now that the huge core stage has been lifted into place with its two hefty boosters at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
While NASA is still aiming to take humans back to the moon, this particular SLS is meant for Artemis I, an uncrewed mission around the moon that could launch later this year.
The stacking operations for the launcher are happening inside the Vehicle Assembly Building, one of the largest buildings in the world. The core stage (the big center part of SLS) stands 212 feet (65 meters) tall and weighs 188,000 pounds (85,275 kilograms). Just lifting it up and into place on top of the mobile launcher platform is an epic endeavor.
Artemis I is meant to prove the design and safety of SLS and the Orion spacecraft before NASA sends humans into space with the hardware. It's a critical step before Artemis II, which would send humans around the moon in 2022. Artemis III would aim to land astronauts on the surface of the moon as early as 2024.
Of course, space timelines tend to slip. If we're lucky, we'll see SLS blast off this year. It should be a stunning launch.
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