NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft, standing atop the mobile launcher, are photographed at Launch Pad 39B at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 18, 2022. The Artemis I stack was carried from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the pad – a 4.2-mile journey that took nearly 11 hours to complete – by the agency’s crawler-transporter 2 for a wet dress rehearsal ahead of the uncrewed launch. Artemis I will test SLS and Orion as an integrated system prior to crewed flights to the Moon. Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the lunar surface, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence and serving as a stepping stone on the way to Mars.
One of the many milestones in the leadup to the launch of Artemis is its rollout: this is when a crawler will carry the SLS rocket with Orion and ESM from the Vehicle Assembly Building to launchpad 39B. NASA’s John Giles gives us a tour of the crawler and explains the adaptations made to this “wonderful piece of machinery” since it was first built for the Apollo program in the 1960s. ESA is playing a key role in NASA’s Artemis program, which will bring astronauts back to the Moon. The European Service Module – or ESM – will provide propulsion, power, and thermal control for the Orion spacecraft. Credit: ESA – European Space Agency