NASA begins assembling the rocket for Artemis moon mission

The first booster segment of the Space Launch System (SLS) was stacked on top of the mobile launcher at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida earlier this week in preparation for its maiden flight, NASA said Tuesday.

A total of 10 segments will form the twin solid rocket boosters before its first liftoff, which is expected to take place next year.

The rocket is a key part of NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program, which aims to send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024. NASA officials also hope the SLS will be used to reach Mars and other “deep space destinations.”

NASA's Artemis I mission is expected to launch in 2021 with two test flights around the Moon without astronauts

Once fully assembled, NASA said the SLS rocket will stand taller than the Statue of Liberty and have about 15% more thrust at liftoff than the Saturn V rockets that powered the Apollo missions about 50 years ago, making it the most powerful rocket ever

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