NASA has just posted a cool virtual-reality video (above) that offers viewers a close-up and immersive look at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39B.
Launch Pad 39B was first used in May 1969 for the Apollo 10 mission, marking the space program’s fourth crewed mission and the second to orbit the moon (the Apollo 11 mission for the first astronaut moon landing in July 1969 launched from nearby Pad 39A).
The pad will also be used for NASA’s upcoming Artemis launches, one of which will land the first woman and the next man on the moon.
In the video, NASA VR tour guide Joshua Santora shows us various features on and around the launch pad, including the mobile launcher that’ll be used to stack and assemble Artemis’ powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft before they’re rolled carefully onto Launch Pad 39B. The tour also includes some neat overlays to give you an idea of the size of the pad’s various structures, and also the size of the SLS rocket coming its way.
You also get to see inside the so-called “white room” from which astronauts will board Orion shortly before being blasted into space.
The pad, which has undergone extensive renovations since its last launch in 2009, is currently gearing up for the Artemis I mission — slated for November this year — which aims to send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft beyond the moon before returning to Earth.
After that, Artemis II will carry a crew to the moon for a lunar flyby, and then, hopefully, before the decade is out, we’ll see astronauts land on the moon as part of the Artemis III mission, marking the first crewed touchdown since Apollo 17 in 1972.
If you’re watching NASA’s VR tour of Launch Pad 39B on a PC screen, don’t forget to drag the picture around using a mouse to fully explore the scene, and be sure to go full screen to properly immerse yourself. On mobile or with VR goggles, simply move around to achieve the same effect.