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NASA’s Space Launch System: everything to know about the big launch

The SLS is finally ready for its big debut

24 updates since Jan 8, 2020, 10:58 PM UTC
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A rocket sits on the launchpad at the end of a dirt road.
NASA’s Space Launch System at its launch pad in July 2022 ahead of a rehearsal.
Photo by GREGG NEWTON/Gregg Newton/AFP via Getty Images

NASA’s oft-delayed Space Launch System was scheduled to take off on its debut flight on August 29th, 2022, but its big entrance has since been scrubbed twice. The megarocket is designed to launch vehicles into deep space, and its first mission is called Artemis I. It will be an uncrewed mission carrying the Orion space capsule deep into space and into a long orbit around the Moon before coming back to Earth.

It’s taken an extremely long time for the SLS to get to this point. It was originally supposed to launch in 2017 but has suffered mishaps and mismanagement, leading to many delays. It’s also vastly over budget; developing the rocket cost a stunning $11 billion, and it will cost an estimated $4.1 billion per launch.

The rocket is designed to usher in a new generation of deep space exploration and may eventually carry human explorers farther into space than we’ve ever gone before. But first, it will have to get off the ground. Check back here for the latest stories as SLS launches and the Artemis I mission gets underway.