On monday morning, at 8:33am Eastern Time, NASA will launch their Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on its maiden flight sending the Orion spacecraft around the Moon and back. This is the first time a crew-rated spacecraft has gone out to the Moon since the Apollo program ended in 1975.
The Space Launch System (SLS), has been under development by NASA and its partners since 2011. SLS utilizes hardware derived from the Space Shuttle, which flew from 1972 until 2011. The main core stage of SLS is powered by 4 modified RS-25 engines, which all flew on previous shuttle missions, and the 5 segment Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) have segments that were also flown on previous shuttle missions.
SLS plays a vital roll in the Artemis program, providing crew transport to Gateway to land on the moon. This first flight of Orion will test crucial systems and push the spacecraft to the limits, to ensure it is prepared to carry Astronauts to the Moon.
Last night, workers powered up SLS's core stage, charged up batteries on board Orion as well as the core stage, and are now working on pre-launch walkdowns to ensure everything is ready to begin fueling of the core stage starting at midnight tonight. NASA will have live coverage of tanking operations starting midnight eastern time, as well as full launch coverage starting at 6:30am eastern time. Weather for tomorrow morning's launch attempt is 80% GO, with odds decreasing to 60% toward the end of the 2-hour launch window.
These live events will take place on NASA TV.
Our team will be at the press site, ready to cover this historic mission to the Moon from just 3 miles away, you can follow our live coverage on twitter: Ryan Bale: @rbalephoto