It's rare that a space mission milestone gets moved up rather than pushed back, but NASA announced Monday that the Artemis I moon rocket will roll out to the launchpad on Tuesday, Aug. 16, rather than the previously targeted Aug. 18.
It's a key step before launching the uncrewed mission on a journey around the moon.
The action is happening at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rollout involves moving the Artemis I Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and attached Orion capsule from inside the Vehicle Assembly Building out to the launchpad, a 4.2-mile (6.8 kilometer) trip. The assembly building is basically a massive garage for rockets. And it needs to be huge. The SLS is 322 feet tall, about 17 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.
Kennedy Space Center will host a livestream on YouTube, starting at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT on Tuesday. The actual rollout time is targeted for as soon as 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Rollout is a multi-hour exercise, so the livestream is the sort of thing you can pop in and out of to monitor the progress.
It takes a big vehicle to move a big rocket. The crawler-transporter is one of the wildest pieces of equipment at Kennedy Space Center. The monster-mover looks like a tank on steroids. NASA's Exploration Ground Systems shared a short clip of it on the move on Monday as it prepares to pick up Artemis I.
NASA has been through all this before when it conductedearlier this year with teams simulating launch activities to test systems and procedures. The last rollout took about eight hours to complete.
NASA is targeting no sooner than Aug. 29 for liftoff. Here's.
The much-delayed mission is meant to kick off the space agency's Artemis era in earnest. This will be a test of the performance of SLS and the Orion capsule prior to sending humans back out to our lunar neighbor. There's a lot riding on this launch, and it starts with an epic journey to the launchpad.