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Photos show how NASA built a $50 billion mega-rocket and spaceship to return astronauts to the moon

Business Insider Logo By prosaaquino@insider.com (Paola Rosa-Aquino,Morgan McFall-Johnsen) of Business Insider | Slide 1 of 33:  NASA's Space Launch System rocket lifted off early Wednesday, launching the Orion capsule on its first moon mission. The SLS rocket and Orion have undergone critical tests to ensure they're ready for flight. The mission, Artemis 1, is an uncrewed flight test before flying astronauts in future missions. NASA's first big moon rocket since the Apollo missions roared past the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, blasting off on its maiden voyage.The mission, called Artemis I, aims to send an Orion spaceship around the moon and back. It's the first of three flights meant to culminate in landing humans on the surface of the moon for the first time since 1972. Eventually, NASA plans to use the new rocket, called the Space Launch System (SLS), to set up a permanent base on the moon."This is now the Artemis generation," Bill Nelson, NASA's administrator, said at a press briefing on August 3. "We were in the Apollo generation, but this is a new generation, this is a new type of astronaut. And to all of us that gaze up at the moon, dreaming of the day humankind returns to the lunar surface, folks, we're here. We are going back and that journey, our journey, begins with Artemis I."NASA's ambitious 21st century lunar campaign requires powerful and advanced space hardware in the SLS mega-rocket, including its boosters and core stage, and the high-tech crew vehicle called Orion. Here's how NASA built these powerful pieces of equipment.

Photos show how NASA built a $50 billion mega-rocket and spaceship to return astronauts to the moon

  • NASA's Space Launch System rocket lifted off early Wednesday, launching the Orion capsule on its first moon mission.
  • The SLS rocket and Orion have undergone critical tests to ensure they're ready for flight.
  • The mission, Artemis 1, is an uncrewed flight test before flying astronauts in future missions.

NASA's first big moon rocket since the Apollo missions roared past the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, blasting off on its maiden voyage.

The mission, called Artemis I, aims to send an Orion spaceship around the moon and back. It's the first of three flights meant to culminate in landing humans on the surface of the moon for the first time since 1972. Eventually, NASA plans to use the new rocket, called the Space Launch System (SLS), to set up a permanent base on the moon.

"This is now the Artemis generation," Bill Nelson, NASA's administrator, said at a press briefing on August 3. "We were in the Apollo generation, but this is a new generation, this is a new type of astronaut. And to all of us that gaze up at the moon, dreaming of the day humankind returns to the lunar surface, folks, we're here. We are going back and that journey, our journey, begins with Artemis I."

NASA's ambitious 21st century lunar campaign requires powerful and advanced space hardware in the SLS mega-rocket, including its boosters and core stage, and the high-tech crew vehicle called Orion. Here's how NASA built these powerful pieces of equipment.

© NASA/Tony Gray and Kevin O’Connell/Cory Huston/Insider annotations

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