NASA’s Space Launch System’s giant moon rocket, topped with an uncrewed astronaut capsule, is set to begin its hours-long crawl toward the launch pad Tuesday night ahead of the behemoth’s debut test flight later this month.

The 98-meter-tall rocket is scheduled to go on its first unmanned space mission on August 29.

It will be an important, long-delayed demonstration trip to the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program, the US’s multibillion-dollar effort to return humans to the lunar surface as practice for future missions to Mars.

The Space Launch System, whose development has been led by Boeing Co for the past decade, is due to lift off from the assembly pod at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at around 9:00 p.m. EDT (01:00 GMT Wednesday) on Tuesday and begin a 6 km flight. go to your launcher.

Moving at less than 1.6 km per hour, the scan will take approximately 11 hours.

On top of the rocket is NASA’s Orion astronaut capsule, built by Lockheed Martin Corp.

It is designed to separate from a rocket in space, ferry people around the moon, and rendezvous with a separate spacecraft that will deliver astronauts to the lunar surface.

But for the Aug. 29 mission, called Artemis 1, the Orion capsule will launch to the top of the Space Launch System without any humans and circle the moon before returning to Earth 42 days later for a splashdown in the ocean.

If bad weather or a minor technical problem causes a delay from August 29, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has backup launch dates of September 2 and 5.

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