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NASA Artemis I Mega Moon Rocket Proudly Poses on the Launchpad

After a successful 10-hour rollout, the Artemis I mission's Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft are in position to launch on a lunar journey.

Artemis I rocket and Orion capsule in the morning sun at the launchpad in Florida.
The Artemis I mission's Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft arrived at the launchpad in Florida on Aug. 17, 2022.
Joel Kowsky/NASA

"We are going!" 

A Wednesday morning photo from NASA shows the Artemis I mission's Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft on the launchpad with a banner along a fence emblazoned with the mission's catchphrase, "We are going." Those three words encapsulate the time, effort, engineering and money it's taken to get to this point, with Artemis I almost ready to take off.

The "We Are Going" banner seen near Artemis I on the launchpad is signed by NASA workers involved in the moon mission.

NASA/Joel Kowsky

The SLS rocket and Orion took a nearly 10-hour journey from the massive Vehicle Assembly Building, where they were garaged, over to Launchpad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They arrived at about 7:30 a.m. ET/4:30 a.m. PT on Wednesday.

Artemis I is an uncrewed test flight that'll send the Orion capsule around the moon and then bring it back home. NASA will be monitoring the performance of the rocket system and the spacecraft to see if it'll be safe to send astronauts on the next moon mission, Artemis II.

The big move on the back of a massive crawler-transporter vehicle happened ahead of a targeted launch date of no sooner than Aug. 29. If that timing doesn't work out because of weather or technical issues, NASA has some backup dates on the schedule.

It's hard to appreciate the scale of Artemis I from photos. The SLS Block 1 configuration (there are other ways the rocket system can be configured depending on its purpose) used for the mission reaches 322 feet (98 meters), making it taller than the Statue of Liberty.

NASA teams will now work to configure systems at the launchpad. Here's how the preparations and launch sequence will go. All of this work is in the service of a set of longer term goals: returning humans to the moon's surface, establishing a longer term presence on the moon, and eventually sending astronauts to Mars. Those ambitious plans start with Artemis I.