NASA’s mega-moon rocket ready for liftoff on eve of debut Artemis mission

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida: Launch teams at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida spent a final full day of preparations ahead of Monday’s (Aug 29) planned liftoff of NASA’s giant next-generation rocket on its debut test flight, kicking off the agency’s Artemis moon-to-Mars programme 50 years after the end of the Apollo era.

NASA officials said on Sunday that all systems appeared “go” for liftoff, and weather forecasts called for an 80 per cent chance of favorable conditions at the top of Monday’s two-hour launch window, starting at 8.33am EDT (8.33pm, Singapore time), diminishing to 60 per cent toward the end of that period.

If the countdown clock is halted for any reason, NASA has set Sep 2 and Sep 5 as potential backup launch dates.

“Everything to date looks good from a vehicle perspective,” said Jeff Spaulding, senior NASA test director for the landmark mission, called Artemis I. “We are excited, the vehicle is ready, it looks great.”

Although lightning rods at the launch site were struck during a storm on Saturday, Spaulding said he has not “seen anything on the ground systems that give us any concerns.” NASA said there was no damage to the spacecraft or launch facilities.