Next-generation NASA megarocket will launch to moon

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. NASA's next-generation rocketship is set for its long-awaited debut launch on Monday on an uncrewed, six-week test flight around the moon and back.

The 32-story-tall, two-stage Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion crew capsule were scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 8:33 a.m. EDT.

Artemis I will put the 5.75-million-pound SLS-Orion through its paces in a tough demonstration flight before NASA considers it trustworthy to transport passengers.

The SLS is the U.S. space agency's largest new vertical launch system since the Apollo Saturn V in the 1960s and '70s.

After weeks of final preparations and ground testing, the spacecraft was moved to Launch Pad 39B this month. Last Monday, NASA officials declared all systems "launch-ready."

About 90 minutes after launch, the rocket's top stage will push Orion out of Earth orbit and on a 42-day mission to the moon and back. The capsule will splash down Oct. 10.

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