NASA succeeded spectacularly in the third attempt to launch its Space Launch System rocket on an uncrewed round-the-moon mission that’s meant to blaze a trail for future Artemis lunar landings.
Artemis 1’s liftoff from Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida came at 1:47 a.m. ET Nov. 16 (10:47 p.m. PT Nov. 15).
The 322-foot-tall, 5.5 million-pound SLS is the most powerful rocket ever built for NASA, surpassing the power of the Apollo era’s Saturn V rocket. The SLS evoked the legacy of Saturn V as it rose on a bright pillar of flame and disappeared into the night sky.
“You guys have worked hard as a team for this moment. This is your moment,” launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson told her teammates in the control room after liftoff. “You have earned your place in history. You are part of a first. It doesn’t come along very often — once in a career, maybe. But we are part of something very special: the first launch of Artemis. The first step in returning our country to the moon, and on to Mars.”