NASA’s Moon Rocket Blasts Off, Bringing Humankind Hopes to the Moon (Again) and Beyond

As world headlines dominated the news cycle, NASA quietly launched its long-anticipated mega Moon rocket.

The 32-story-high Space Launch System (SLS) is part of the space agency’s new flagship program, Artemis.

The rocket took to the stars at around 1:47 AM, producing a record 8.8 million pounds thrust.

Orion is attached to the top of the rocket, a spaceship that will orbit the Moon and could help put the first woman and first person of color on Luna by the mid-2020s.

Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, NASA’s first female launch director, told the excited team, “What you have done today will inspire generations to come; thank you!”

The last time humans visited the Moon was back in the 1970s. Because the celestial body is devoid of any significant life-building compounds, returning wasn’t a priority. But now, Luna will serve as a stepping stone to the rest of the solar system and, eventually, the galaxy.

“Now we are going back to the Moon, not just for the sake of going to the Moon, but to learn how to live on the Moon to prepare to send humans to Mars,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said at a news conference after the launch. He added, “this is the next beginning; this is the Artemis generation.”

The unmanned Artemis 1 is gathering safety information for humans to follow next, and the mission will last just over 25 days.

Artemis 2 will include a flyby of the Moon with astronauts in 2024, and Artemis 3 will see humans on lunar soil no sooner than 2025.