KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, UNITED STATES (AFP) – After technical issues halted its first launch attempt, NASA will try again today to get its new 30-storey rocket off the ground and send its unmanned test capsule towards the Moon.
If the massive Space Launch System (SLS) lifts off successfully, it will not only be awe-inspiring but also historic for NASA, marking the first of its Artemis programme plotting a return to the Moon, 50 years after the final Apollo mission.
The launch is scheduled for 2.17pm local time (1817 GMT) from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with a possible two-hour delay if necessary.
“Our team is ready,” said Deputy Manager of exploration ground systems at Kennedy Space Center Jeremy Parsons on Friday.
“They are getting better with every attempt and actually performed superbly during launch countdown number one… I think if the conditions with weather and the hardware align, we’ll absolutely go.”
Though the area around the launch site will be closed to the public, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to gather on beaches nearby to see – and hear – the most powerful vehicle that NASA has ever launched climb into space.
NASA’s initial launch attempt on Monday was halted after engineers detected a fuel leak and a sensor showed that one of the rocket’s four main engines was too hot. Both issues have since been resolved, and the weather appears to be cooperating: the United States Space Force predicts a 60 per cent chance of favourable weather at the scheduled liftoff time, growing to 80 per cent later in the launch window.