The Artemis 1 moon rocket is being prepared for launch at Kennedy Space Center.

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NASA is counting down the hours to the first flight test of its new Artemis rocket, which the agency hopes will carry astronauts back to the moon in just a few years.

The space agency has been trying to get the multi-billion dollar rocket off the ground so that it can send a capsule without a crew on board around the moon and back. The weather at the launch site in Florida looks promising and the lift-off is now targeted for a two-hour window.

The deputy program manager for Exploration Ground Systems at NASA's Kennedy Space Center told reporters on Monday that they are on schedule.

The Artemis program aims to put the first woman and first person of color on the moon. Since 1972, the agency has not launched a space vehicle.

The Artemis rocket's initial launch attempt was called off due to a malfunctioning engine sensor. Repairs were needed because of leaks of hydrogen fuel. The rocket was forced to return to its hangar after Hurricane Ian rolled in.

The rocket was blasted by Hurricane Nicole, which was a stronger storm than officials had expected.

Mission managers have spent a lot of time talking about Hurricane damage to a thin strip of caulking material that fills in a small gap at the top of the rocket. The material is too high up to be fixed.

There was a concern that more bits could get thrown into the air and hit other parts of the rocket. NASA's Mike Sarafin says engineers have analyzed the situation and feel like it's okay to fly.

Damage from Hurricane Nicole can be seen in this close up view of the rocket. The caulking material that looked like a bright white strip was torn off in the winds.


The action item was closed during the conference call. We accepted the flight rationale after I asked if there were any dissenters.

"That gives me comfort that we're going to be ready when it's our time to fly because the Artemis team has persevered through all of these recent setbacks."

Our time is upon us. Sarafin hopes that that is on Wednesday. If Wednesday isn't the right day, we'll take that next hurdle, and keep going.

NASA's new rocket is too expensive to be sustainable, according to some spaceflight experts.

This rocket will not fly a lot. It will not happen for another couple of years. At the earliest, a lunar landing will take place at the end of the century.

NASA's human spaceflight program stopped flying the space shuttles in 2011.

The trips to the International Space Station were stopped to focus on the moon and deep space. The private company founded by billionaire Musk has been carrying up cargo and operating as space taxis.

The moon landers will take astronauts from a capsule in space and take them to the moon. There is a large rocket in development called Starship, which is cheaper than the Artemis rocket.