There is a space station in Florida. NASA's new moon rocket blasted off on its debut flight with three test dummies aboard early Wednesday, bringing the US a big step closer to putting astronauts back on the lunar surface for the first time in 50 years.

The capsule will return to Earth with a splashdown in the Pacific in December if everything goes well during the three week shakedown flight.

After years of delays and cost overruns, the Space Launch System rocket thundered skyward, rising from Kennedy Space Center on 8.8 million pounds of thrust and hitting 100 mph in less than a second. The capsule was on top ready to leave Earth and go to the moon.

It took nearly three months for the rocket to bounce between the hangar and the pad. After being forced indoors by Hurricane Ian at the end of September, the rocket stood its ground outside as Nicole swept through last week with gusts of more than 80 mph. Managers gave the go-ahead for the launch even though a 10-foot strip of caulking was torn away by the wind.

NASA expected 15,000 to jam the launch site, with thousands more lining the beaches and roads outside the gates to watch NASA's long-awaited sequel to Project Apollo, when 12 astronauts walked on the moon from 1969 and 1972. Crowds gathered outside NASA centers in Houston and Alabama to see the spectacle.

Cheers accompanied the rocket as it rode a huge trail of flame towards space, with a half- moon glowing brightly and buildings shaking as though hit by a major earthquake.

The launch director said that it was for the Artemis generation.

The launch marked the beginning of NASA's Artemis lunar- exploration program. The space agency wants to land humans on the moon as early as 25 years from now.

She told her team that they had earned their place in history. You are a part of a new thing. Doesn't happen a lot. Maybe one day in a career. We are all part of the first launch of Artemis. The first step in getting our country back to the moon.

The SLS is the most powerful rocket ever built by NASA, with more thrust than either the space shuttle or the mighty Saturn V that carried men to the moon. There were a number of hydrogen fuel leaks during the summer. An emergency team was able to tighten the valve on the pad after a leak erupted at a new location. A scramble ensues when a U.S. Space Force radar station goes down.

The moon is more than 300,000 miles away from Earth. After coming within 80 miles of the moon, the capsule will embark on a journey that will take it all the way to the sun.

The test flight is expected to last 25 days, the same as when crews will be on board. The space agency wants to find any problems before astronauts are on board. NASA calls the mannequins moonequins because they are fitted with sensors to measure things like acceleration and radiation.

There's a fair amount of risk with the initial flight test.

The rocket was supposed to be out of action by the end of next year. NASA will have spent more than $90 billion on the project by the year 2025, according to government watchdogs.

NASA wants to establish a base on the moon and eventually send astronauts to Mars by the late 20th century.

Obstacles need to be cleared. The capsule will only carry astronauts to the moon.

The 21st century answer to Apollo's lunar landers has been hired by NASA. On the first trip to the moon in 2025, astronauts will be shuttled back and forth between the lunar surface and the manned space station. The plan is to put other companies' landers around the moon in the future.

The value of human spaceflight is being questioned by a Duke University historian, who believes that robots and remote-controlled spaceships can do the job more cheaply, efficiently and safely.

There has been no evidence to justify the investment we have made in human spaceflight.

When this test flight is over, NASA will be able to introduce the astronauts who will be on the next one and those who will follow in the footsteps of the Apollo 11 crew.

Fifty years ago next month, the Apollo 17 moonwalkers closed out the era, and most of NASA's corps of 42 active astronauts were not even born yet.

Koch said that they were jumping out of their space suits.

Koch is on NASA's short list for a lunar flight after a nearly yearlong space station mission and all- female spacewalk. Not counting her own, the 35-year-old is the only one who has yet to witness a rocket launch.

Barron said that it took his breath away and made him cry. This team has done an amazing job.

That's right.

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