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NASA launches rocket for Artemis moon mission

November 16, 2022

It was the third attempt to launch the unmanned rocket after a bad weather and a series of technical difficulties thwarted prior launches.

The Artemis I rocket launch
The Artemis I unmanned rocket will voyage to the far side of the moon and backImage: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

NASA launched its most powerful rocket ever on Wednesday as part of the Artemis mission to reach the moon.

The 32-story Space Launch System (SLS) rocket launched from Cape Canaveral at 1:47 local time (0647 GMT/UTC).

NASA estimated 15,000 spectators gathered at the launch site. The crowd burst into cheers as the ground rumbled and the rocket lifted off.

It was the launch attempt for the multibillion-dollar rocket after 10 weeks of technical mishaps and back-to-back hurricanes repeatedly delayed the launch.

Back to the moon

The Artemis mission marks the first time NASA has attempted to reach the moon since the Apollo program's final launch 50 years ago.

"For the Artemis generation, this is for you," launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson called out after takeoff, referring to all those born after Apollo. 

She said the inaugural Artemis launch was "the first step in returning our country to the moon and on to Mars."

Orion Flug Zum Mond EN

A test for what's to come

The Artemis mission will orbit the moon before returning to Earth. The voyage is expected to last 25 days.

The first flight will be a vigorous test of the Orion spacecraft with mission control monitoring the mannequins on board.

"There's a fair amount of risk with this particular initial flight test," mission manager Mike Sarafin said.

NASA ultimately hopes to build a lunar base from which to send astronauts to Mars by end of the next decade.

zc/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP)