NASA will send its new SLS rocket to the launchpad for the first time on Thursday, March 17, and you can watch the whole event as it happens.
The SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft will undergo testing after reaching Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Assuming all goes well, the vehicle will blast off for a journey around the moon in the next couple of months 0n a mission that will usher in a new era of lunar exploration as part of NASA’s Artemis program.
Admittedly, the rocket’s careful, four-mile crawl to the launchpad — aboard a low-slung transporter with a top speed of 1 mph — means this particular livestream will be more suited to fans of so-called “slow TV,” but the event will give us our first proper look at the fully stacked rocket, complete with the new Orion spacecraft on top.
NASA recently posted a photo of the 332-feet (98.1-meter) SLS rocket inside the Vehicle Assembly Building from where it will emerge on Thursday to begin its journey to the launchpad.
Platform retraction: COMPLETE 🤩
All of the platforms surrounding @NASA_SLS & @NASA_Orion have been retracted in preparation for rollout. On March 17, the #Artemis I stack will begin the journey to Launch Complex 39B ahead of the wet dress rehearsal test: https://t.co/eE4C0EEZP0 pic.twitter.com/YlWBQ8Q3ag
— NASA's Kennedy Space Center (@NASAKennedy) March 16, 2022
How to watch
NASA’s livestream kicks off at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT) on Thursday, March 17. You can watch the coverage using the video player at the top of this page, or by heading to NASA’s YouTube channel, which will carry the same feed.
The broadcast will include a speech from NASA chief Bill Nelson and other guests.
The rocket will embark on a four-mile journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the launchpad, a trip that’s expected to take between six and 12 hours. Live, static camera views of the rocket’s debut and arrival at the pad will also be available starting at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT) on the Kennedy Newsroom YouTube channel.
Shortly after NASA’s SLS rocket arrives at the launchpad, engineers will conduct a final prelaunch test known as a “wet dress rehearsal.” This includes loading the rocket’s propellant tanks and conducting a launch countdown.
After two planned flybys of the moon — the first without a crew and the second with a crew — NASA will use the rocket in a mission to land the first woman and first person of color on the moon before the end of this decade in what will be the first crewed touchdown since the last Apollo mission in 1972.
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